Texas welcomed the new year with a handful of new laws that took effect on Jan. 1, including a revision of the property taxes collection process, an expansion of the judicial branch and an amendment to pollution standards.
District 67 Representative and Plano native Jeff Leach authored House Bill 3774, one of the laws that went into effect in January 2023. The omnibus bill passed in September 2021 includes several reforms that reshaped the judicial branch of state government.
One of the highlights of the bill relates to public access to the state’s court documents database — any member of the public will have access to the database provided that the request receives approval from the Texas Supreme Court. Additionally, the bill restructures Texas’ court system adding 10 district courts, five statutory county courts, one statutory probate court and one criminal law magistrate court. Other remarkable changes include granting magistrates of certain counties jurisdiction in criminal actions, revising procedures for the transfer of cases between courts as well as standardizing the process.
Senate Bill 12 written by Senator Paul Bettencourt introduces a revision of the tax code restricting public school districts' levy on the homestead of elderly or disabled constituents. According to the Texas Tribune, the law makes districts eligible for additional state aid to prevent an overwhelming decrease in revenue.
The third bill to come into effect on January 1 is Senate Bill 1210 introduced by Senator Nathan Johnson and Bettencourt. The new law is aimed at reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons, chemical compounds of hydrogen, carbon and fluorine, pollutant compounds that erode the ozone layer and contribute to global warming by requiring building codes to allow the use of refrigerants that comply with the federal Clean Air Act.
The bill was supported both by the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute as well as major Texas manufacturers like Goodman and Chemour, according to the Senate Research Center’s analysis of the bill. The analysis also estimates that the transition will create 33,000 new manufacturing jobs while sustaining 138,000 existing manufacturing positions nationwide. “A large proportion of these jobs will be in Texas, already a major manufacturing hub for these products,” adds the analysis.