More than 750 new laws passed by the Texas Legislature will take effect Friday, impacting everything from public education and transportation to health care and drag shows.
Why it matters: The most high-profile laws passed this year address social issues prevalent among conservatives, including restrictions on medical care for transgender minors, limitations on trans athletes, bills targeting drag shows, and new regulations for social media companies.
The new laws set to take effect include:
Drag shows: Senate Bill 12 will criminalize businesses that host sexually oriented performances in front of children.
- Authors removed references to drag shows from the bill before it passed, but businesses hosting performances for children that appeal to a “prurient interest in sex” can be fined $10,000. The new law can charge performers with a misdemeanor.
Trans athletes: SB 15 prevents transgender college athletes at public colleges and universities from competing on a sports team that doesn’t match their sex assigned at birth.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion: SB 17 bans diversity, equity, and inclusion offices and diversity-related training at public universities.
Progressive prosecutors: SB 20 will make it easier to remove district attorneys who refuse to pursue violations of specific state laws like abortion bans and low-level drug offenses.
Social media: House Bill 18 requires digital social media platforms to get consent from a parent or guardian before agreeing with minors to create an account.
Medicaid for new mothers: HB 12 will extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from two months to one year.
- According to CBS, half of the people giving birth in Texas get their health care coverage through Medicaid.
Itemized hospital bills: SB 490 requires Texas hospitals and other health care providers to provide patients with an itemized bill — with a plain language explanation of every service provided — before any attempts to collect debt.
Mask and vaccine requirements: SB 29 prohibits local governments from requiring COVID-related masks, vaccines, or business shutdowns. Private businesses and clubs aren’t affected.
Puppy mills: SB 876 will regulate the number of dogs and cats breeders can have. Breeders with five or more females must register by January 2024.
New transportation laws
Street takeovers: HB 1442 outlines a new section of penal code law to reduce street takeovers. The law also adds reckless driving to an organized criminal activity statute, giving prosecutors and police additional options for charges.
Where you can walk: HB 1277 allows people to walk on roadways facing oncoming traffic when sidewalks are obstructed or unsafe.
- Rodney “RJ” Reese’s arrest inspired the law. He was walking on a road during the February 2021 storm when snow and ice made sidewalks impassable.
EV fees: SB 505 will require Texans to pay $400 to register a new EV for two years and $200 for renewal to compensate for the state’s lost revenue from gasoline taxes.
Speed limit changes: HB 1885 allows TxDOT to temporarily change speed limits on roads or highways, depending on driving conditions, without approval from state transportation commissioners.
- An investigation of the pileup on I-35W in February 2021, in which six people died and dozens were injured, concluded that variable speed limits might have helped.
Toll road bills: HB 2170 requires toll agencies to mail an invoice to users with electronic tags when an automatic payment gets rejected. The invoice must include a clear message outside the envelope indicating it contains an unpaid bill.
Laws in litigation
Health care for trans children: SB 14 bans gender-affirming care for minors, including medication or surgery. The law will make Texas the most significant state to enforce a ban on transgender health care for children. The Texas Supreme Court is weighing its fate.
- Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso sued to block the legislation. Dallas doesn’t appear to have plans to join the suit.
- Arlington, Denton, and Plano are among the North Texas cities supporting the lawsuit.
Banned books: HB 900, passed in April, aims to ban sexually explicit books from school libraries and require vendors to assign ratings to books based on depictions or references to sex.
- Two Texas bookstores — in Austin and Houston — and three national bookseller associations are suing to stop the law. This month, a judge was weighing an injunction.
Go deeper: Read all the new laws taking effect Sept.1.