AUSTIN (KXAS) — In the odd years where the Texas Legislature is in session, a whole mess of new laws typically goes into effect on Sept. 1. This year is no exception, with the legislature passing 666 laws that go into effect on Wednesday.
While all of them are not listed here, you can see a few of the big ones below. A link to the full slate of new laws can be found at the bottom of the page.
TEXAS 2022-23 BUDGET: SB1: The House and Senate approve a two-year $250 billion budget that lawmakers said spends less than our current budget and better funds public schools. Our partners at The Dallas Morning News have more on the budget here.
STAR-SPANGLED BANNER ACT: SB4: Requires that the national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, be played before games played by professional sports teams that contract with the state.
TEXAS HEARTBEAT BILL: SB8: Texas’ “Heartbeat Bill” bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant. The law allows private citizens to enforce the rule, not the state, through civil lawsuits against doctors and others. Similar laws in other states have been successfully challenged in federal court, though Texas lawmakers hope placing enforcement in the hands of citizens will help defeat challenges.
BLOCKING AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE: HB9: Provides for criminal punishment and the conditions of community supervision for someone who blocks the path of an emergency vehicle. Depending on the circumstance, the punishment could be a misdemeanor or felony.
POLICE CHOKEHOLDS: SB69: Police officers are no longer allowed to use a chokehold, carotid artery hold, or similar neck restraint unless it’s necessary to prevent injury to the officer; police officers also have a duty to intervene to stop or prevent another police officer from using force against a person if that force exceeds what is reasonable or if the officer knows the use of such force is a violation of law or puts a person at risk of bodily injury.
ACTIVE SHOOTER ALERT SYSTEM: HB103: Also known as the Leilah Hernandez Act, this law creates the Texas Active Shooter Alert System which will be activated via the federal Wireless Emergency Alert System on the report of an active shooter. This is expected to work in the same way Amber Alerts, Blue Alerts, etc., are distributed on phones. The information could alert people to the situation, a suspected shooter’s identity or last known location, or other relevant information. Leilah Hernandez, 15, was the youngest victim killed during a 2019 mass shooting in Midland-Odessa.
BO’S LAW: HB929: Known as the Botham Jean Act, or Bo’s Law, this law ensures that cameras worn by law enforcement officers will remain on during an active investigation. The law came about after Jean was fatally shot in his apartment by off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger who entered Jean’s apartment and mistook it for her own. Testimony in Guyger’s murder trial revealed Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata asked another officer to turn off a camera inside a squad car at the scene of the shooting so Guyger and Mata could speak privately. Mata said Guyger was going to take a call from her attorney and had the right to attorney-client privilege. Bo’s law establishes guidelines for when a recording can be discontinued considering the need for privacy in certain situations and locations.
MAIL-IN BALLOT TRACKING: HB1382: This bill amends Election Code to add electronic tracking for applications for mail-in ballots. The bill tasks the secretary of state with creating an online tool for people who submit applications for a ballot to track the location and status of the application and the ballot.
SUNDAY BEER/WINE SALES: HB1518: The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code was amended to allow beer and wine to be sold after 10 a.m. on Sundays. Prior to Sept. 1, 2021, beer and wine could not be sold before noon on Sundays. Liquor is still not allowed to be sold on Sundays at any time.
“DEFUNDING POLICE” PROTECTIONS: HB1900: Municipalities with populations of more than 250,000 that adopt budgets that reduce year-over-year appropriations to police departments could be subject to financial penalties from the state if those reductions are out of line with other reductions to the budget. The bill also blocks future annexation and allows areas annexed within the last 30 years to appeal for de-annexation that is decided during an election.
CRIMINALIZING HOMELESS CAMPING: HB1925: This law prohibits camping in public places by homeless people and criminalizes the act by making it a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of $500. The law also says a political subdivision may not designate a property to be used by homeless individuals to camp without an approved plan.
CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY: HB1927: Anyone age 21 who can legally own a handgun can legally carry that handgun in public without a license or training. It is illegal however to carry that gun while intoxicated and the law includes stiffer penalties for felons caught illegally carrying guns. The law was not passed without controversy. Some law enforcement groups said the law would endanger the public and police while supporters said would allow Texans to better defend themselves in public while abolishing unnecessary impediments to the constitutional right to bear arms. Texas law also makes some places always off-limits to firearms and the new law does not change where guns cannot be carried, including: a polling place; a government meeting open to the public; a courthouse; a school or school-related activity; a racetrack; a jail; an airport; an amusement park; a bar; a restaurant selling alcohol. Read more on the law here.
PATRIOTIC EDUCATION: HB2497 and HB3979: As the debate over critical race theory continues during the second special session, Texas lawmakers approved two bills in the regular session aimed at how the history of America and Texas is taught in schools. HB2497 is related to the Texas 1836 Project, an effort to teach “Patriotic Education” since the state’s war for independence from Mexico. The bill provides for an advisory committee “to promote patriotic education and increase awareness of the Texas values that continue to stimulate boundless prosperity across this state.” Lawmakers also passed HB3979, which says “a teacher, administrator, or other employee of a state agency, school district, or open-enrollment charter school may not (C) require an understanding of The 1619 Project.” The project is a longform journalism project from the New York Times that “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
ERCOT CHANGES: HB2586 and SB1281: Two laws related to the devastating winter storm from February 2021 and the power grid will go into effect Wednesday. HB2586 calls for an annual audit of each independent organization certified for the ERCOT power region. Auditors will look at board members, salaries, budgets and expenses of each organization. Under SB1281, a biennial assessment of the reliability of the ERCOT power grid under extreme weather scenarios will be performed by a certified independent organization.
While the laws mentioned above have all passed and go into effect Wednesday, the state legislature is currently busy in the second special session working on other items of importance outlined by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott including the GOP-backed bill on election integrity, bail, and property tax reform, limits on transgender kids competing on sports teams. A third special session is expected to be called this fall to address redistricting.
Not every bill passed by the legislature goes into effect on Sept. 1. Some went into effect immediately while others have effective dates in the future. Future effective dates vary, some will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, while others may not go into effect until 2026.
To see a list of all 666 laws passed by the 87th Texas Legislature that go into effect on Sept. 1, click here.