(The Center Square) – Over 600 new laws went into effect Wednesday in Texas.
The laws were passed both the House and Senate during the 87th Legislative Session and were signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. The new laws exclude several bills that went into effect immediately earlier in the year.
The new laws include several conservative priorities, including the Heartbeat Bill, Texas becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary state, legalizing constitutional carry, ensuring that police departments remain funded, prohibiting public homeless encampments, and providing funding for homeschooling and school choice options, among others.
"The 87th Legislative Session was a monumental success, and many of the laws going into effect today will ensure a safer, freer, healthier, and more prosperous Texas," Abbott said. His two priority legislative items, election reform and bail reform, failed to pass during the regular session and the first special session. They both passed during the second special legislative session.
Laws related to law enforcement include ensuring that cities and municipalities cannot defund their police departments, and enhancing criminal penalties for some offenses.
After the Austin City Council voted to defund its police department and crime increased, the legislature passed House Bill 1900, which penalizes cities that defund their police departments. Cities with populations over 250,000 that seek to defund their police departments will have their property tax revenue frozen, according to the new law.
The bill also allows the state to withhold sales taxes collected by a defunding city and give it to the Texas Department of Public Safety to pay for the cost of state resources used to protect residents of a defunded municipality.
For counties with a population of more than 1 million, another new law, Senate Bill 23, requires voter approval to reduce law enforcement budgets. If voter approval is not received, but the county still defunds police, the county's property tax revenue will be frozen by the state.
Two notable new laws are SB 576, which makes human smuggling a felony in the state of Texas, and SB 768, which enhances criminal penalties for manufacturing and distributing fentanyl in Texas.
Laws increasing criminal penalties include HB 9, which enhances the criminal penalty to a state jail felony offense for anyone who knowingly blocks an emergency vehicle or obstructs access to a hospital or health care facility, and HB 2366, which enhances criminal penalties for the use of laser pointers and creates an offense for the use of fireworks to harm or obstruct the police.
Laws aiding law enforcement include HB 103, which created an Active Shooter Alert System in Texas, and HB 3712, which provides increased training and transparency during the hiring process for peace officers.
Laws furthering gun rights include HB 2622, which makes Texas a Second Amendment sanctuary state and protects Texans from new federal gun control regulations, and HB 1927, which allows law-abiding Texans to legally carry a handgun without a license.
Other notable new laws include creating civil liability protections for farmers and ranchers (HB 365), allowing homeschooled students to participate in University Interscholastic League activities (HB 547), reducing regulatory burdens for learning pods, and outlawing abortion outright in the state of Texas if or when Roe v. Wade is overturned (HB 1280).