Editors note: This is the third in a series of articles involving new laws passed in the 81st Texas Legislature. Police Chief Roy Halsell will contribute to all reports. Look for next Sunday’s E-T to learn more about these new laws.
During the 81st Legislature, lawmakers considered legislation affecting 25 state agencies and boards based on the recommendations from the Sunset Advisory Commission. The Department of Public Safety was among the agencies reviewed and many of the DPS-related bills approved in the most recent legislative session were included in HB 2730. Below are some of the provisions included in the bill.
With the Lone Star State resting on the Mexican border, one provision of the bill deals a blow to commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders intent on helping illegal immigrants find a ride into the United States.
HB 2730 increases the driver license sanction from a one year CDL license disqualification to a lifetime disqualification, and also states if a minor is involved in the human trafficking, juvenile court judges are required to suspend that juvenile’s driver license or permit.
Also relevant to drivers license and identification cards, and geared at cutting down on the non-residents obtaining such, HB 2730 prohibits DPS from issuing licenses and ID cards to persons who have not established a home in the state. The law says that an applicant must provide a residential address when applying. The bill states DPS may seek the assistance of a third-party data verification service to assist the department in verifying a residency claim, including whether the address provided is the applicant’s actual address.
But new Texans now have a longer period of time to find their home sweet home since the bill says newcomers can operate a vehicle without a Texas license for 90 days instead of 30 - this provision took effect June 19.
In a state full of gun enthusiasts, concealed handgun licenses (CHL) laws are also changing. HB 2730 amends a number of provisions including the elimination of student loan defaults as a disqualifier, clarifies that DPS must suspend or revoke a license when it becomes ineligible and also mandates that a magistrate suspend a CHL held by individuals who are subject of an emergency protective order.
The bill also removes DPS authority to suspend a CHL for the carrier’s failure to display the license to a peace officer on demand, and also removes associated penalties.
With officers’ lives on the line, Stephenville Police Chief Roy Halsell said CHL holders still have a moral responsibility when it comes to their licenses.
“I would hope responsible citizens would willingly reveal that they hold a CHL even if there is no longer an enforced penalty,” Halsell said.
While it’s not news that drinking and driving don’t mix, especially with a child in the vehicle, for those who choose to break the law, HB 2730 has added an automatic driver license suspension for first-time offenders and an increased suspension period for repeat offenders. In addition, the license reinstatement for completing an education program will increase from $50 to $100.
For more information on HB 2730 and the 81st legislative session, visit www.legis.state.tx.us.