Jan. 1, 2020: The new laws that begin statewide on Wednesday

Local News

AUSTIN (NEXSTAR/KXAN) — Do you know which new laws will ring in 2020 across Texas? Here’s a breakdown.

SB 212

Senate Bill 212 will put new requirements on employees of colleges and universities to report assault, sexual harassment, dating violence and stalking.

In a letter to the University of Texas community on Dec. 12, the university’s Title IX Coordinator explained the ways SB 212 will change reporting requirements, including:

  • All UT employees who have information regarding sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking or dating violence must report the incident to the university’s Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator as soon as possible.
  • It is prohibited for anyone to retaliate against a person who has made a good-faith report.
  • Any reports made to the Title IX Coordinator must include all relevant information on the incident.
  • Student employees are encouraged but not required to report incidents under the SB 212 guidelines. However, if the student employee is designated a responsible employee they must report incidents under Title IX.

In November, it was announced that UT would hire a team of experts to evaluate its handling of sexual misconduct reports. The university will also hire three new investigators in its Office for Inclusion and Equity (OIE), which investigates complaints against faculty and staff members.

SB 1264

The “surprise medical bills” bill. Senate Bill 1264 protects patients with state-regulated health plans from getting surprise medical bills and leaves billing negotiations between insurance plans and providers.

However, this state law only applies to 16% of Texans, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.

“The good news is lawmakers in Austin have done everything they can to protect consumers,” said Stacey Pogue, senior analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “The bad news is, with the way the law works, they simply can’t write laws that are regulated at the federal level. We need Congress in Washington D.C. to act, to pass something that’s similar to what we’ve done here. We need to protect consumers from surprise medical bills.”

HB 492

House Bill 492 allows temporary tax exemptions for areas designated as government-declared disaster areas. This required Texas voters to amend the state Constitution in order to pass and voters approved in November. Final results show 85% voted yes and 15% voted no.

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