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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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New Texas laws go into effect

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Photo via Wally Gobetz/Creative Commons/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

Gov. Greg Abbott signed 774 new Texas laws this legislative session that went into effect Sept. 1. From new crimes to new limits, the laws impact all areas of Aggie life — some more than others.
Crime was a large portion of the legislative’s time, resulting in bills HB 2715 and HB 6, making it a crime to use AirTags or other devices to track an individual’s location without their consent and classifying fentanyl deaths as poisonings, continuing Texas’ politicians attempt to crack down on the drug.
SB 1551 also adds a new crime to Texas’ list, making failure to show identification to an officer an offense.
Texas A&M spent a majority of the legislative session in Austin with other universities, pushing for various initiatives, such as a tuition freeze and increased research funding. It also fought against various bills, most notably SB 18, a change to tenure in public universities.
In an 83-61 vote, the House approved a watered-down version of SB 18 after a fight in the legislature involving universities, politicians and educators statewide.
The bill requires boards overseeing Texas public universities, such as the Texas A&M Board of Regents, to adopt policies allowing institutions to fire tenured faculty for several reasons, including “professional incompetence” and “conduct involving moral turpitude.”
SB 17 dismantled diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, offices and programs at public universities, resulting in multiple Texas universities ending programs funded or supported by DEI.
Politicians also focused on students with SB 412 and SB 459, two bills that increase protections for pregnant students and give them early registration, respectively.
Because of SB 412, universities can not require pregnant students to take a leave of absence, limit their studies or change anything about their major solely because they are pregnant.
The Texas legislature also passed SB 532, requiring campuses to inform students of mental health resources, provide a map with physical locations and make note of them on campus tours. It also makes mental health professionals eligible for a loan forgiveness program.
SB 15 targets collegiate sports, requiring athletes in competitions to compete based on biological sex rather than gender identity. It’s followed by SB 14, which banned gender-affirming care for minors.
SB 12 continued the Republican war on drag shows, with “sexually oriented performances in front of minors” becoming a criminal offense. A lawsuit was filed against the bill on Aug. 2. Nevertheless, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill on Aug. 18.
HB 900 issues a book ban throughout the state. School libraries must now assign book rankings with the goal of removing sexually explicit content from schools. However, opponents argue that “sexually explicit” is too broad a term.
SB 37 fights against increased reports of hazing in universities and provides immunity to corporations and other entities supporting student organizations if they report hazing and cooperate with investigators.
Sexual assault was also looked at by the legislature — in particular, resources for victims. Per SB 806, police officers must provide resources and education to victims. SB 1401 then reimburses victims for rape kits and other medical care.
In the wake of a COVID-19 surge, SB 29 bans mask and vaccine mandates alongside business and school closures. The law exempts prisons, hospitals and assisted-living centers from the ban.
Many of the laws have faced challenges in court, such as HB 2127, a bill preventing cities and counties from enacting laws that go further than what the state considers state law. A Travis County judge ruled the law unconstitutional on Aug. 30, with an appeal expected.
Opponents of the law argue it takes too much power away from cities, with both Republican and Democrat mayors challenging it in court.

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About the Contributor
Nicholas Gutteridge
Nicholas Gutteridge joined The Battalion in January 2023 as a news reporter before being promoted to news editor in August 2023. He interned at The Pentagon in Washington D.C. from January-May 2024 with the U.S. Air Force Office of Public Affairs before rejoining The Battalion.
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