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The Common Law: Strange Brew – Interesting New Texas Laws

New Texas laws affect eating, drinking, weapons, and tanning

By Luke Ellis, Fri., Oct. 4, 2013

Hundreds of new Texas laws took effect on Sept. 1. Some of the new laws address topics that impact all of us, including traffic and driving (see last month's column). Other laws are more targeted and unique. Here's a summary of interesting, unusual, and downright strange topics our elected officials saw fit to address this past legislative session.

Farmers' Markets. Not quite restaurants and not quite food trucks. Farmers' markets and their related food and cooking demonstrations had previously fallen into a gray and murky area of food regulation. The Texas Legislature promulgated a variety of different regulations intended to address health and safety compliance at farmers' markets.

Home Bakery. Aspiring Rachael Rays take notice. Regulations on selling home-baked goods to the public have been relaxed. Items home bakers can make and sell from their homes have been expanded to include candy, coated and uncoated nuts, fruit butters, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, popcorn, cereal, granola, mustard, coffee and a host of others.

Wineries and New Year's Eve. Like chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes, the Texas Legislature has endorsed another classic combination — wine and New Year's Eve. The curfew for wineries on New Year's Eve has been extended to 2am.

Bring a knife to a gunfight. Since the Fifties it's been against the law in Texas to have, make, repair, or sell a switchblade in Texas. The Legislature finally got around to repealing this law, which gives Texans free reign to carry switchblades.

Tanning Kids. Further distinguishing Texas from the likes of New Jersey, minors under 18 years old may no longer use indoor tanning beds (previously minors aged 16-18 could with parental approval). The move is designed to protect kids from ultraviolet radiation, and ultimately, skin cancer.

Please submit column suggestions, questions, and comments to thecommonlaw@austinchronicle.com. Submission of potential topics does not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information submitted is subject to being included in future columns.

Dawson, Sodd, Ellis & Hodge LLP, www.dawsonsodd.com.

The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or www.austinlrs.com.

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