Texans woke up to several new laws on New Year’s Day, some tackling teen issues and others doubling tax exemptions.

The 88th legislative session saw the passing of a multitude of bills, many of which took effect on January 1. These new regulations address various issues, ranging from DEI programs in higher education to specialty license plates.

Here is a rundown of some of the different laws that just went into effect in the Lone Star State.

HB 2323

Adopted as the state song in 1929 and then reaffirmed in 1993, “Texas, Our Texas” by William J. Marsh and Gladys Yoakum Wright will be honored in 2024 thanks to HB 2323.

Since this song was written in 1924, the state will commemorate the centennial anniversary by issuing a special license plate bearing the words “Texas, Our Texas.”

The plates can be purchased through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, with the remaining fees after the deduction of administrative costs going to the general revenue fund.

HB 3186

At-risk youths are the subject of HB 3186, also known as the Texas Youth Diversion and Early Intervention Act.

As part of this initiative, minors accused of low-level offenses (non-traffic Class C misdemeanors) can avoid criminal proceedings by participating in a diversion program at the discretion of the judge presiding over the case. Programs include job training, rehabilitation, and alcohol and drug awareness programming.

Each year, between 30,000 and 50,000 low-level juvenile cases come before the court, and while a judge can opt to send an offender to a diversion program after conviction or deferment, the new law allows for even earlier intervention.

HB 3273

Texas homeowners should have easier access to information about their property taxes after HB 3273 takes effect. The law requires regular updates to the state’s property tax database so owners can be kept aware of how much they owe.

Moreover, appraisal districts and other taxing entities will have to swap out postcards for email updates to homeowners whenever a property tax change occurs.

As previously covered by The Dallas Express, the property tax burden on Dallas homeowners has been subject to considerable debate this year. In September, the Dallas City Council approved a record-high budget of $4.63 billion and a $120 million increase in residents’ property tax burden.

HB 4758

Ads for e-cigarettes that run in Texas will be subject to several new rules in 2024, thanks to HB 4758.

The use of cartoon-like characters or food images won’t be allowed; neither will celebrity images, symbols, or similar tactics used in marketing aimed at minors. Companies could face a Class B misdemeanor charge if caught in non-compliance.

The measure is aimed at lowering teen vaping rates. Currently, an estimated 1 in 4 high schoolers nationwide use e-cigarette products daily, according to the Food and Drug Administration. In 9 out of 10 cases, these students report using cartridges that have been flavored to taste like fruit or candy.

SB 3

Through SB 3, part of an omnibus property tax relief package passed this summer, tens of thousands of Texas small businesses will be exempted from the state’s annual franchise tax. On January 1, the state’s franchise tax exemption doubled to up to $2.47 million of an entity’s total taxable revenue.

SB 17  

Taxpayer-funded higher education institutions will be banned from promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

This measure, which passed this summer, bars any activities promoting “differential treatment of or providing special benefits to individuals on the basis of race, color, or ethnicity” or training programs focused on race, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, such programs were considered to be divisive by supporters of the bill, while opponents suggested that students of color would be negatively impacted.