Yep, new Texas laws take effect Monday; Here's what you need to know

Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to show a photo ID the next time you use a debit or credit card to make a purchase.

True, many retailers already ask to see that ID for certain purchases.

But as of Monday, Texas law will allow retailers to reject any sale where shoppers can’t or won’t show their photo ID.

“While clearly not a panacea, [this bill] allows a merchant to request government-issued photo identification at point of sale and will provide the ability for that merchant to decline a transaction,” a bill analysis for Senate Bill 1381 states. “The option to turn down a transaction if a customer fails to provide photo ID verifying their identity is not currently available to merchants.”

Texas lawmakers decided during the 2017 legislative session this measure is needed in an era of repeated data breaches that have affected millions of shoppers.

SB 1381 is one of more than two dozen laws that take effect with the New Year — whether Texans know it or not.

“Most Texans are too busy thinking about holiday parties and prepping for visits from in-laws than the vagaries of when Texas laws go into effect,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “By the time the laws are set to go into effect, most Texans are concerned with other matters.”

“Most people are very busy with their lives, trying to make a living and trying to escape from the daily grind of life, [and] laws and the Legislature are boring and often hard to understand,” added Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

The new measures come on the the heels of 673 new laws — ranging from banning texting and driving to allowing Texans to carry long knives and swords around — that went into effect Sept. 1.

Here’s a look at a few of the new laws going into effect Monday.

Paying for purchases
Security breaches remain a major concern for retailers, banks and customers alike.

Texas lawmakers said requiring shoppers to show a photo ID that matches the name on the credit card is needed to protect retailers who “may now be ‘on the hook’ for some losses resulting from fraudulent transactions,” according to SB 1381 analysis.

This, they say, can guard against information obtained during data breaches that then is used to create fake debit and credit cards that are used not only online but also in person.

“This legislation will provide merchants with an additional tool to attempt to minimize fraudulent transactions and losses,” the analysis states.

Voter ID
A revamped Texas voter ID law geared to relax what some had called the most strict requirements across the country also goes into effect.

Senate Bill 5, passed after courts ruled that the 2011 state law discriminates against Latino and black voters, gives voters who say they can’t obtain required forms of ID more options.

Anyone who has a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining a photo ID may show an alternate form of ID — bank statements, utility bills, paychecks — to vote. But anyone who lies about the photo ID and then uses one of the new alternates to vote faces being charged with a state jail felony.

The law also requires the Texas secretary of state to set up mobile units to provide election ID certificates to voters who need them.

Odometers
The next time ownership of a vehicle is transferred, the odometer reading requirement may be a little easier, under SB 1062.

Currently, federal law requires the odometer disclosure “to be made on a secure form to prevent tampering,” according to the bill analysis.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has a carbon copy paper form. But since that has to be mailed, the process delays the ownership transfer process.

This bill lets the state accept an electronic copy of forms needed to do the transfer — whether the vehicle is for sale or for an insurance claim — to speed up the process.

A full list of the 26 bills that go into effect January 1, 2018 Monday can be found here.

Read more from our media partners at the Star-Telegram.

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