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2021 Law Changes for Texas

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We expect our elected representatives to push to make laws that improve our state. While this happens all year round, many new laws may start to be enforced with the beginning of the new year. 2021 isn’t too far away and there are new laws on the horizon.

As a resident of Texas, you may want to keep an eye on the new state laws or any law changes. They may affect you, or someone you know, and you’ll be a well-informed citizen. Let’s review the law changes that Texas will see in 2021.

What Law Changes Are Happening in Texas?

There are so many areas to stay informed on when you’re paying attention to new laws and changes. These are a few of the major law changes you should be aware of.   

Smokeable Hemp Ban

Last year, Texas lawmakers passed a hemp legalization bill. In this bill, it’s stated that producing products that are made for smoking or vaporization was forbidden. This year, state health authorities also included the prohibition of selling and distributing products that are made outside of Texas. Hemp companies opposed this move.

There’s been movement against the Texas ban on smokable hemp products. In court, a judge ruled that officials cannot enforce the prohibition until an industry challenge is brought to the courtroom.

Hemp companies are arguing that the action to prohibit selling and distribution of out-of-state products is unconstitutional. The judge said they showed a “probable right to relief,” and the ban has been temporarily voided. The trial is set to conclude in February of next year.

Advocates against the ban as well as Texas businesses are doing all they can to oppose the ban. They’re going after the ban on production and sale and distribution. Their stance is this violates their economic freedom.

There are also some concerns with the ban. Smokeable hemp and other forms of hemp look similar. This could lead others to mislabel types of hemp to avoid the ban, but also puts those buying the product in danger.

There have also been many legal troubles. Since hemp is legalized for other reasons, there are those who have legal hemp in the state. However, it is strikingly similar to marijuana. It’s difficult to discern whether or not the person had an illegal or legal substance. To answer this question, the substance needs to be tested in a lab. Unfortunately, the labs are overwhelmed and cannot handle the large capacity of tests they need to conduct for misdemeanor cases. As a result, many cases have been dismissed.

There’s also been another outcome of hemp legalization: the decrease of marijuana possession arrests. In 2018, there were 5,900 misdemeanor marijuana possession cases each month. When the hemp law went into effect in June 2019, those numbers were nearly halved. Less than 2,000 cases were filed in November.

Abolished Commissions

Throughout 2020, the Texas Commission on Judicial Selection is looking into the methods of selecting trial and appellate judges. This includes statutory county court judges, district judges, justices of the courts of appeals, and more.

Their study will include the fairness of selecting a judge, the methods of selection in other states, the length of appointments, and other aspects of selecting a judge and for what position.

The commission will have 15 members, four of which are appointed by the governor, four appointed by the lieutenant governor which includes three senators, four appointed by the Speaker of the House which includes three members from the House of Representatives, one member will be appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas Chief Justice, the presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will appoint one member, and the State Bar of Texas board of directors will appoint one member.

The Texas Commission on Judicial Selection must submit its findings and recommendations to the governor and the legislature by December 31, 2020. After their work is submitted, the commission will be abolished on January 2, 2021.

New Courts

In addition to examining the judge selection process, new courts will also come to Texas. Effective January 1, 2021, the 456th Judicial District (Guadelupe County) will be created. This requires the 456th District Court to give preference to civil cases.

The 466th District (Comal County), the 467th District (Denton County), and the County Court at Law No. 3 of Ellis County will also be created on January 1, 2021.

Buckingham & Vega Law Firm is closely following the new law changes in Texas so we can help our clients to the best of our abilities. If you have any questions, reach out to us here.

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