Politics

Voter ID, Credit Card Fraud Laws Take Effect This Month

The two are among 26 new state laws passed last year that went into force January 1

Texas State Capitol in Austin.
Texas State Capitol in Austin.

More than two dozen new Texas state laws took effect with the first of the year.

Top of the list is SB 5, the latest version of the Texas voter ID law. The law’s supporters argue it is necessary to combat voter fraud. A federal court has already ruled that SB 5 discriminates against minorities, as its opponents contend. The law is now awaiting review by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether lawmakers intended to discriminate.

“If it’s the case that it’s believed that Texas did so on purpose, it may pull Texas back into a specific provision under the Voting Rights Act, which would require federal supervision when Texas changes any kind of election law,” says Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science at the University of Houston. “This process is what we call ‘preclearance.’”

Another new law, SB 1381, aims to cut down on credit and debit card fraud by letting merchants ask for a photo ID. Al Pascual, Head of Fraud and Security at Javelin Strategy & Research, says the law would have been ideal about ten years ago.

“So, it’s really only going to be for lost and stolen debit and credit cards,” says Pascual, noting that helps cut down on fraud against brick-and-mortar stores. “A lot of the fraud though unfortunately, now, because of EMV [chips] and just because criminals have gotten a lot better at it, has shifted online. So, instead of ripping off Walmart, they’re ripping off Walmart.com, and in that case you’re not going to check an ID.”

While the law allows merchants to ask for a photo ID, it does not require them to do so.

Several of the other new laws are targeted to specific industries or interest groups. SB 1383 increases the amount of milk a truck can transport from 80,000 lbs. to 90,000 lbs. SB 549 allows organizations that applied for a temporary bingo license from the Texas Lottery Commission to get a refund if they haven’t used it within a year of the date the license was issued.

A complete list of Texas laws that took effect January 1, 2018 is available here.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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