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News > U.S.

Hundreds of Rightwing Laws Take Effect in Texas

  • Workers take a break in the shade of a tree, U.S., 2023.

    Workers take a break in the shade of a tree, U.S., 2023. | Photo: X/ @LMarieVResists

Published 1 September 2023

Many new state laws passed by Texas Republicans this spring are highly controversial.

On Friday, over 770 new laws are set to go into effect across Republican-dominated Texas, the second most populous U.S. state, addressing several social issues dividing Americans.


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Many new state laws passed by Texas Republicans this spring are highly controversial. Some were blocked at the last minute. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Hittner in Houston issued a temporary restraining order stopping a new Texas law from taking effect.

Under the law, businesses can be fined US$10,000 if they host sexually oriented performances in front of children, and performers can be charged with a misdemeanor. Opponents argue the definition is too broad.

Alan D. Albright, a federal district judge appointed by former President Donald Trump for the Western District of Texas, put hold on a new Texas law requiring book vendors who sell to Texas public schools to rate every publication in their stock based on sexual content.

This judge would issue a written order in two weeks barring implementation of the legislation in its entirety, local media reported. The law also prohibits sexually explicit books from school libraries.

Two Texas bookstores, one in Austin and another in Houston, as well as three national bookseller associations, are suing to stop the law, said an Axios Dallas report.

Another controversial law, nicknamed the "Death Star" bill which is aimed to stop Democrat-led local governments from enacting progressive policies, was declared unconstitutional by State District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble on Wednesday. Houston, San Antonio and El Paso have all sued to block the legislation.

The law is still expected to take effect, according to a report of The Texas Tribune, though Houston City Attorney Arturo Michel said that Gamble's ruling gives cities fodder to counter any lawsuit against local ordinances challenged under the law.

However, earlier on Thursday, the Texas Supreme Court gave the green light for a new state law banning gender-affirming care for minors, including medication or surgery, to take effect from September, making Texas the largest U.S. state to enforce such a ban. Opponents called the law and the decision "cruel."

"Transgender youth and their families are forced to confront the start of the school year fearful of what awaits them. But let us be clear: The fight is far from over," advocacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union said in a joint statement.

Ranging from public education and transportation to health care, drag shows and operations of social media companies, new state laws are expected to impact the daily life of Texans.

On school safety, at least one-armed security officer will be required to be present at each campus during school hours. The Texas school safety center will review facility standards at least once every five years.

On campus diversity and LGBTQ rights, transgender college athletes will be banned at the state's public universities from competing on a sports team that doesn't match their sex assigned at birth.

Meanwhile, offices for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), together with diversity-related training programs, will be banned at public universities across Texas starting September.

Under other new laws, the state will remove the sales tax on feminine hygiene and baby products and add reckless driving to an organized criminal activity statute. Drunk drivers who kill parents of minors will have to pay child support until all of the victims' surviving children turn 18.

Prosecutors will also be allowed to pursue murder charges against providers of "a fatal dose of fentanyl," since a new law classifies the overdose as "poisoning." The state will require Texans to pay US$400 to register a new electric vehicle for two years and US$200 for renewal to make up for the state's lost revenue from gasoline taxes.

SB 147, the controversial bill that intended to ban all property ownership by Chinese citizens in Texas and thus stirred widespread protests among Asian residents in Texas and nationwide, failed to move forward at the state legislature this spring.

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