Tamir Khalifa / Getty Images
In Texas, more than 650 new laws took effect Wednesday by the Republican-led state legislature in the 2021 regular session. Among those top conservative priorities passed in other red states across the country this year, but weren’t There is like Texas which has more than 29 million residents.
Meanwhile, Texas Democrats are back in the state after leaving to protest the restricted voting law. That bill was finally passed on Tuesday but it won’t become law immediately.
Here are some of the major new laws that go into effect Wednesday, September 1, in Texas:
New voting laws. (no, not this)
The Texas voting law that has received the most attention this year is Republican-backed Senate Bill 1, which passed this week. This still needs Governor Abbott’s signature but Some talk less about voting laws It goes into effect Wednesday.
One prohibits Texas voters from registering with a PO Box as their address, another allows the Secretary of State to cut money for voter registrars who fail to remove certain people from the rolls and make it difficult to apply for a mail ballot. for medical reasons.
There are also other, less controversial voting laws. One allows people to keep track of mail-in ballots and the other shows who can be at the polling place: voters, election workers, poll monitors, election judges and law enforcement.
Sergio Flores / Getty Images
Prohibition of abortion of cardiac activity
Earlier this year, Texas lawmakers passed a bill that could ban the vast majority of abortions in the state.
Abortion is prohibited once cardiac activity is detected in the fetus, which can occur as early as about six weeks before many know they are pregnant.
Unlike other similar bills across the country, Texas law does not specify criminal penalties for breaking the ban. Instead, the law allows private citizens to sue anyone who assists someone with an abortion.
Abortion rights advocates have asked the US Supreme Court to block the law, saying that if it goes into effect it would essentially eliminate access to abortion in Texas.
“If this law goes into effect, anti-abortion protesters could use this law to harass clinics with endless lawsuits that consume their time and resources and could force them to close,” said Mark Heron, lead attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, Reporters in July.
Ban “Cash Race Theory”
Teachers say they don’t teach her. Educators say most people – including critics – don’t know what it is. However, this spring lawmakers passed laws banning the teaching of critical race theory in schools.
Nikki Jones, who studies African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, described critical race theory as a way to understand how race is used to influence laws in the United States.
“It’s a way to see the race,” Jones says. “To see understandings of race, to see racism, in places where it might not have surfaced otherwise.”
The new law takes critical race theory without naming it. Steve Toth, a Republican, the sponsor of the House bill, says the new law aims to teach complex topics like slavery and racism without making white children feel guilty.
“We need to teach them about the ills, but you can’t blame this generation,” Toth says. “Children have become scapegoats.”
History educators in Texas say they are not scapegoating anyone.
Felonies for protesters closing roads and hospitals
Protesters in Texas could face criminal charges for blocking a road or hospitalization after a new law takes effect Wednesday.
The bill was introduced after a protest in California that resulted in protesters ban two deputies from entering the emergency room.
In Texas, misdemeanor protesters faced up to six months in prison for this crime. The new law increases the penalty to two years.
“As a nurse who worked in an emergency situation, seconds matter,” says Republican Representative Stephanie Klick, one of the bill’s authors. “Delaying just a few minutes to emergency care can mean the difference between life and death.”
But Democratic state Representative Joe Moody of El Paso said the punishment was too severe.
“What we are doing here is creating a mandatory minimum that is incompatible with anything else we have,” Modi says.
Brandon Bell / Getty Images
Download without permission
Texans have had the right to bear a gun in public since 1995. Since then, more gun-friendly legislation has followed. However, you have always needed to have a license to be able to take your gun outside your home or vehicle.
Starting Wednesday, that is no longer the case.
The new law allows anyone who can legally own a firearm to carry it in public, as long as it is in the clipboard. This is the first time since the reconstruction.
Texas is now the 20th state to enact what some call a “constitutional carry” — something proponents say is a right conferred by the Second Amendment.
The law does not change eligibility to own a gun. Handgun owners in Texas must be at least 21 years old and cannot serve a sentence for a felony or family violence within the past five years. The new law also adds several misdemeanors to the list, including assault causing bodily injury, fatal conduct, terrorist threat, and disorderly conduct with a firearm.
The law is unpopular among some Texas law enforcement, and according to April survey data from the University of Texas and The Texas Tribune, nearly 60% of Texans oppose an unauthorized pregnancy.
“I think that would mean more handguns in public,” says Jill Switzer, executive director of Texas Gun Sense. “And the data shows us, time after time, time after time that guns don’t make us safer.”
Ban homeless camps
Another new law bans homeless camps across the state making it illegal to set up a shelter or store their belongings for an extended period of time, creating a new Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Many believe the legislation is a response to Austin decriminalizing homeless camps in 2019 — a measure Austin voters voted to decriminalize in May. Law It also limits cities’ use of parks as temporary camps.
Expanding access to medical cannabis
On Wednesday, thousands of Texans will be eligible for low THC medicinal cannabis oil through the state’s Compassionate Use Program.
The new law makes all types of cancer eligible for the program. Previously, only patients with “incurable” cancer were eligible.
“It could be said that any form of cancer can be fatal, right?” says Jax Finkel, executive director of the Texas National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform. “So it seemed like a very arbitrary descriptor.”
It also expands its use for people with PTSD. Originally, only veterans were eligible. That changed in part after an outpouring of support from veterans who testified that everyone with PTSD should have the same access.
However, the state program remains among the most restrictive in the country.
According to a survey by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune this year, more than 10% of Texans believe marijuana should remain illegal in the state.
Education credits to serve veterans
A new law could help the approximately 1.5 million veterans living in Texas obtain academic credit for the skills they learned in the military by creating a global catalog of translations of military training that will be applied to certain degrees and certificate programs at Texas business schools and colleges.
It’s about reducing redundancy for veterans and giving them faster entry into the civilian workforce, says Democratic Representative Alex Dominguez, who co-authored the bill.
“My goal is to publish this list so that the veterans themselves can see what they will be eligible for,” Dominguez says. “A veteran may leave military service after always working in the infantry, for example, but they may notice that they have developed enough skills that would help them get a job, say, in law enforcement, or to be a paramedic, for example . “
Andrew Schneider of Houston Public Media and Florian Martin; Brett Jaspers, Haya Panjwani, Anna Perez, and Keira’s Bill Zeppel; KUT’s Ashley Lopez, Jerry Quijano and Andrew Webber. Carolina Cuellar and Jack Morgan of Texas Public Radio contributed to this story.