Over 600 new laws went into effect on Sept. 1 in Texas. Signed by Gov. Greg Abbott and the 87th Texas Legislature, some major laws aim at healthcare, voting, public safety and K-12 education.
Here’s a rundown of eight significant laws you should know about:
Permitless Carry: House Bill 1927 authorizes “Constitutional Carry” — meaning Texans age 21 and older (with a clean criminal record) can openly carry a gun in public spaces without prior training or license.
“Heartbeat” Bill: Senate Bill 8 bans abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy or “the moment a baby’s heartbeat is detected in the womb.”
Texas law enforcement will be unable to enforce SB8. Instead, enforcement will fall on private Texas residents to sue abortion providers they believe have broken this law. Some organizations like Texas Right to Life have already attempted to create websites for residents to report abortion providers.
In addition, HB1280 will completely outlaw abortion should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
Protesters Face Felony Charges: Texas protesters who obstruct roadways for emergency vehicles or block a hospital entrance may face up to two years in prison, raising the offense from a misdemeanor charge to a state felony.
This comes a year after the country saw nationwide protests over police brutality.
Homeless Camps: House Bill 1925 prohibits “camping in public spaces”, effectively banning homeless encampments on unauthorized public property. Offenders may now face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by a $500 fine.
Critical Race Theory: House Bill 3979 discourages discussions regarding race and current events in K-12 social studies classes.
This comes after recent outrage over “critical race theory” among Republican lawmakers, such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick who called on Texans to “roundly reject ‘woke’ philosophies” in a statement on July 16.
“Critical race theory” (CRT) is a legal academic framework created by scholars in 1989 that is “centered on the idea that racism is systemic, and not just demonstrated by individual people with prejudices.”
Despite outrage from Texas Republicans, “critical race theory” is often taught at the university level and has little to do with conversations about race in K-12 classrooms.
Senate Bill 3, which is currently awaiting a signature from Gov. Greg Abbott, would replace HB 3979 and further restrict social studies education, requiring one administrator and teacher from each public school to undergo a state-approved civics course.
National Anthem: Senate Bill 4, also called the “Star-Spangled Banner Protection Act,” requires state-funded professional sports teams to play the national anthem at games.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called the bill a “legislative priority” in February after the Dallas Mavericks stopped playing the anthem before games.
Medical Marijuana: Texas is expanding its medical marijuana usage law with House Bill 1535, which now grants Texans “with PTSD and cancer of all stages” legal, medical access to low-THC cannabis.
Voting Restrictions: Though the bill awaits a signature from Gov. Greg Abbott, GOP-backed Senate Bill 1 will strengthen Texas restrictions on voting, banning drive-thru and 24-hour voting among other restrictions.
SB1 will likely take effect before the 2022 primary elections.