DRC_Editorial

This editorial was first published in The Dallas Morning News. Guest editorials don’t necessarily reflect the Denton Record-Chronicle’s opinions.

Naturally, most of the attention during a legislative session was focused on the big-ticket items such as passing public school finance reform and property tax relief.

So it’s easy to look past the hundreds of new laws — some good and some that leave us scratching our heads — that Texas lawmakers pushed through that also affect our lives.

If you don’t like them, by all means take them up with your appropriate local representatives during election time. But most of these measures go into effect on Sunday. And we’re here to help sort through some of the most interesting laws and ones with the most impact.

Finally, the Driver Responsibility Program is dead.

This is the program that larded fines on Texas drivers for the past 16 years.

We agreed with the Texas ACLU and other advocates that adding surcharges to standard court fines incurred after infractions such as speeding tickets or driving with an invalid license was unfairly bleeding drivers dry.

For Texans caught in this trap, money troubles kept multiplying, leading thousands to have their licenses suspended.

Good riddance. Now an estimated 600,000 drivers with suspended licenses could get their licenses back.

Raising the age to buy tobacco to 21 can stem a nasty epidemic.

We know that if a kid wants to smoke, he or she can find a way. But we applaud a new law that raises the age to buy tobacco, electronic cigarettes and tobacco products from 18 to 21 unless you are in the military.

We believe adults should be free to make their own choices — even unhealthy ones — in a free society. It’s important, though, to note that most research shows that 95% of smokers start before age 21. If we can delay that start a few years, we’re all for it.

And we know that vaping is now all the rage with kids. We’re alarmed that one recent survey found that 3.6 million students in middle school and high school are now using vaping products, many of them throughout the day without their teachers and parents knowing. Sure, they have fewer carcinogens than cigarettes, but they’re still highly addictive and harmful to kids.

This law will go a long way in making a dent in that destructive trend.

Thankfully, sending an unsolicited nude photo is a crime.

Sending sexually explicit material by text, email, dating app or social media to a person who hasn’t consented will be a Class C misdemeanor with up to a $500 fine.

This was a long time coming.

Many a politician has gotten in trouble over this hideous practice. There have been thousands of victims in all walks of life.

No one should be subjected to that.

Brass knuckles are now legal. Come on.

These things were banned for a reason. What could go wrong?

Starting Sunday, you can now carry them. Lawmakers say people ought to be able to protect themselves. That’s noble. But may we suggest that the folks who might own a pair of brass knuckles and know how to use them might be up to no good?

And finally, operating a lemonade stand won’t have you on the wrong side of the law.

Seriously, lemonade stands in this state were illegal — until now. Now the kids can make a little money without fear of fines.

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