Aug 29, 2023 - News

New Texas laws take effect Sept. 1

Illustration of the Texas State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Where all the laws happen. Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

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 popular 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.

  • References to drag shows specifically were removed 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 and performers can be charged 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 certain 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 entering into an agreement with minors to create an account.

Fentanyl deaths: HB 6 allows prosecutors to pursue murder charges against a person who provides someone a fatal dose of fentanyl, classifying the overdose as "poisoning."

Medicaid for new mothers: HB 12 will extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from two months to one year.

  • Half of the people giving birth in Texas get their health care coverage through Medicaid, according to CBS.

Tampon tax: SB 379 removes the sales tax on feminine hygiene and baby products, including tampons, menstrual cups, diapers, baby wipes, maternity clothes and breast-milk pumping products.

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 aimed at reducing 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.

  • The law was inspired by the arrest of Rodney "R.J." Reese for 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 make up 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 is 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 largest state to enforce a ban on transgender health care for minors. The Texas Supreme Court is weighing its fate.

State versus city control: The "death star" bill would dismantle local ordinances around the state, putting an end to safeguards like Dallas's 2015 ordinance requiring rest breaks on construction sites.

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.

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