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Police funding, church tax breaks among new Texas laws taking effect Saturday
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The 23 bills all passed during the 87th Legislative Regular Session, which ended in May.

New Year's Day 2022 welcomes a slew of new laws taking effect in the Lone Star State, including a tax break for places of religious worship and new protections for homeowners living in flood-prone properties. The 87th Texas Legislature approved the 23 measures during its regular session this year, which ended in May.


Here's a look at some of the most notable bills becoming law in the new year:

Taxation rules and exemptions


Among the measures taking effect Saturday is House Bill 1197, which increases the maximum period that certain land owned by a religious organization for the purpose of expanding a place of religious worship or constructing a new place of religious worship may be exempted from property taxation from from six years to 10 years. Authors of the bill, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in June, said it was meant to benefit smaller congregations, according to the Dallas Morning News.


Another measure related to taxation is Senate Bill 794, which exempts homestead taxes for veterans who are considered “totally disabled” by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. HB 115 exempts taxes of certain property owned by charitable organizations and used in providing housing and related services to people experiencing homelessness. To qualify, the organization has to have existed for at least 20 years if it’s located in a county and two years if in a municipality.

Flood-prone property disclosures


Also included in the list of bills is HB 531, which will require landlords to inform prospective rental property owners if a property is located in the 100-year floodplain or if the home has flooded in the last five years before signing a lease. The notices would be disclosed on the lease, according to the bill's text.


Under previous Texas law, landlords were not required to tell tenants if a place flooded in the past. Issues surrounding residents uninformed about their homes being prone to flooding came to head following Hurricane Harvey in 2017.  Under the new law, if landlords fail to notify them, tenants can terminate their lease if their property becomes flooded or damaged as a result of flooding. The new law only applies to leasing agreements signed on and after Jan. 1, 2022.

Long-term care facility websites


Another law, HB 3961, will require websites of long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, to post information regarding the office of the state long-term care ombudsman, which advocates for resident rights and "help protect the quality of life and quality of care of anybody who lives in a nursing home or an assisted living facility," according to Texas Health and Human Services. The measure addresses concerns that sprung up during the pandemic when facility closures isolated residents from loved ones, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Law enforcement funding requirements


Also taking effect is Senate Bill 23, which requires counties with more than 1 million residents to hold an election before reducing funding of a law enforcement agency or reallocating funding or resources from one law enforcement agency to another. The bill was authored in response to calls to “defund the police” last year. Supporters of the bill say it ensures voters have input in public safety decisions while opponents argue it takes away local government control.

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