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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

Retired teachers getting pension raise, other new laws


Last updated 1/2/2024 at 7:31pm

Speaker of Texas House of Representatives, Dade Phelan

Texas had 34 new laws go into effect, including a cost of living increase for teachers in the Retired Teachers Fund. The monthly raise will be between 2 to 6 percent and is the first cost of living awarded since 2013.

The teacher pension COLA was one of three measures approved by voters in November after the Texas Legislature passed bills making the proposals law upon voter approval.

Another change approved by voters will allow an estimated 67,000 small businesses to not have state franchise taxes. The new law raises the exemptions allowed for the franchise tax, leading to more businesses not having to pay anything. In addition, businesses that qualify to have no franchise taxes will now not have to filed a yearly "no tax" form.

In 2018, the Texas Department of Health Services teen vaping had reached epidemic proportions. Beginning on January 1, it is now a Class B misdemeanor to create marketing items like T-shirts, or packaging that appeals to minors for e-cigarette supplies.

Youth arrested for a Class C misdemeanor like shoplifting will now have a chance for a city judge or justice of the peace to allow them to have diversion classes rather than convictions.

People who like specialty license plates for their vehicles will have another to choose from. The legislature allowed a "Texas, Our Texas" plate to be designed in honor of the 100th anniversary of the composition that officially became the state song in 1929.

Another new bill approved by voters in November created the Texas University Fund that will expand national research funding to four more state colleges. The additional schools are Texas State University, Texas Tech University, University of Houston, and University of North Texas.

The addition funding for the schools will allow them to become major national research universities and is supposed to help grow the state economy.

State universities will also now be under penalties for any programs known as "DEI," or "diversity, equity, and inclusion." According to the new law, public universities in Texas may no longer have "training programs or activities in reference to race, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation."


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