Beware! New Laws Go Into Effect Today

Floatin' & shootin' — what could go wrong?
Floatin' & shootin' — what could go wrong? Photo by Fitz Crittle/Flickr
In case you were wondering, that dude sloshing through knee-high water while grasping a machete is not necessarily a looter — he's just a proud Texan embracing the law going into effect today that allows folks to carry nearly any type of knife or sword.

It's just one of many new laws celebrating their birth today, including some head-scratchers that make us wonder if lawmakers were getting a little punch-drunk during the regular and special sessions. Here's a roundup of some of the more notable ones:

Is That a Knife in Your Pocket, Or....

Whether you're a broadsword enthusiast, or you lean more toward a 14-inch Bowie knife, it doesn't matter — carrying both in public is totally okay from today on out, or until the impossible happens and something terrible happens.

Hot Air Balloon-Shootin'

As of today, it is perfectly legal to climb into a hot-air balloon, float up to the heavens (or a few hundred feet, anyway), and try to pick off those annoying feral hogs and coyotes, while making sure the kickback doesn't knock you out of the basket, or a bullet hits an unintended target. As the Houston Press's Joseph Fanelli reported in July:

“It seems like one of the most ill-conceived pieces of legislation I’ve ever heard of,” said Phil Bryant, a hot air balloon pilot and owner of Ballooning Adventures of Texas, a full-service balloon company in Houston, when asked about it by the Houston Press.

Texting Ain't for Driving

Finally, a sane law going into effect Friday: The new law states that drivers may not use a phone to read or send texts or any "electronic message" unless the vehicle is stopped. A first offense carries fines ranging from $25 to $99. So texting that cute pic of your dog wearing people clothes while you're flying down the Katy Freeway is just going to have to wait.

Honey, We're Going to Have to Wait...

Sane law number two — only it's really sad that this had to be done in the first place: The new minimum age for marriage is 16, and anyone under 18 needs a judge's approval before he or she can marry. The intent here is to cut down on the barbarism of children being forced into marriage, which was apparently still a thing in Texas, thanks to the relaxed requirements. Prior to this law, a judge could have approved a child of any age to get married. Sixteen is still way too young, if you ask us, but it's a start.

Bullies Beware

Also going into effect today is David's Law, named after a 16-year-old San Antonio boy who killed himself in January 2016 after being relentlessly cyber-bullied. As the San Antonio Express-News reported in June:

"The law allows temporary injunctions against social media accounts used to harass or bully children and criminalizes electronic harassment of minors with the intent of causing them to harm themselves. It also requires schools to speedily notify parents if their children have been bullied and to notify the parents of children accused of bullying."

The Let's-Make-It-Easier-for-Insurance-Companies-to-Screw-People-Over Act

In an especially ill-timed bit of legislation, another brand-new law — ostensibly meant to crack down on frivolous insurance claim lawsuits — will reduce "the penalty interest rate insurance companies face for late payments if the policyholder files a lawsuit," the Texas Tribune reported. Thank goodness lawmakers and Governor Greg Abbott are looking out for those poor, helpless insurance companies out there.

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Contributor Craig Malisow covers crooks, quacks, animal abusers, elected officials, and other assorted people for the Houston Press.
Contact: Craig Malisow