774 Texas laws go into effect Sept. 1, including ones about diapers, alcohol, electric cars

Friday marks the start of a slew of new Texas laws, including requirements of an armed officer at every school, variable speed limits and tax exemptions for diapers.

There are 774 laws that go into effect Sept. 1 following the 88th legislative session that concluded in May. While there’s no uniform start date for new state laws, the first of September is common for many.

Here are some of the bills that go into effect:

School safety legislation

House Bill 3 is a wide-ranging school safety bill that requires districts to have at least one armed officer at each school during the day. Some school districts in North Texas are struggling to meet the requirement.

It also requires mental health training for educators who regularly interact with students to help them recognize students who may pose a risk to school safety. Under the new law, the Texas Education Agency must establish an office of school safety and security.

The law was passed after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Fentanyl penalty

Under House Bill 6, a person could face a murder charge if they give fentanyl to someone who dies as a result of the drug. The criminal penalty comes as lawmakers try to curb fentanyl deaths. The drug is sometimes taken unknowingly when the person believes it to be a different type of pill.

The bill also increases the criminal penalty for manufacturing or delivering fentanyl and requires death certificates to note fentanyl toxicity or fentanyl poisoning as causes of death when applicable.

Giving alcohol to a minor

House Bill 420 increases the criminal penalty for purchasing or giving alcohol to a minor to a state jail felony when it results in the minor’s serious injury or death. The penalty increase applies only to offenses after Sept. 1. A state jail felony could result in 180 days to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Crown Act

House Bill 567 establishes protections against race-based hair discrimination in housing, education and at work. The bill is commonly called the Crown Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. In public schools and at public universities and colleges, dress codes cannot discriminate based on hair texture or styles like braids, locks and twists.

Many Black North Texans have previously told the Star-Telegram their natural hair texture wasn’t accepted in school or workplaces, calling for the law.

Animal cruelty charges

House Bill 598 makes it a crime for a person to have an animal if in the last five years they’ve been convicted of dog fighting, attacking a service animal or cruelty to a non-livestock animal. The crime is generally a class A misdemeanor, which could mean up to one year in jail and a $4,000 maximum fine. The penalty is increased if a person has previously broken the new law.

Penalty for doxing

House Bill 611 makes it crime to post a person’s home address or phone number online with the intention to cause or threaten harm. Violators face 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. The potential punishment increases if the post results in injury.

Library book ratings

House Bill 900 bans “sexually explicit” material in school libraries and creates a rating system for the books. The law requires book vendors to grade library materials as “sexually explicit” or “sexually relevant.” The books considered “sexually relevant” could be checked out by students with permission from their parents, and “sexually explicit” books cannot be sold to districts. Several book sellers have sued Texas over the law.

Illegal voting

House Bill 1243 makes it a second degree felony to vote illegally in Texas. The law reverses a penalty reduction made in 2021 as part of an elections bill. A person convicted of illegal voting could face between two and 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Variable speed limits

House Bill 1885 allows for temporary adjustments to speed limits based on road conditions like bad weather, traffic or construction. Variable speed limits were recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board after February 2021’s deadly February deadly pileup crash on an icy stretch of Interstate 35W north of downtown Fort Worth.

Local preemption

House Bill 2127 says city and county rules must be consistent with state laws. The legislation has been criticized by many local officials who say it erodes local control. San Antonio and Houston have both sued Texas over the law. Arlington, Plano and Waco supported Houston’s legal challenge, opposing the new law in a letter filed in court earlier this month, according to The Denton Record Chronicle.

Drag show restrictions

Senate Bill 12 bars businesses from hosting “sexually oriented” performances when a child is present. The bill doesn’t explicitly make reference to drag shows and performers, but includes “the exhibition of sexual gesticulations using accessories or prosthetics that exaggerate male or female sexual characteristics” under the definition of “sexual conduct.”

Opponents of the bill have said it targets drag shows the LGBTQ community, including in lawsuits that aim to block the law. Opponents have argued the broad language could affect other types of performances, such as cheerleading and theater. Supporters say it is needed to protect children from sexual content.

Transition-related health care

Senate Bill 14 bars doctors from providing transition-related health care to children under 18, including the prescription of puberty blockers. Minors who were taking prescription drugs that suppress puberty before June 1 and have gone to therapy at least 12 times over the course of six months before starting the medication can gradually stop taking the prescription “in a manner that is safe and medically appropriate and that minimizes the risk of complications.”

A legal fight over the law is playing out in court.

Transgender college athletes

Senate Bill 15 bars college athletes from competing on sports teams aligning with their gender identity. The law comes after lawmakers passed a similar bill in 2021 that applies to public schools.

Tampon and diaper tax exemption

Senate Bill 379 exempts adult and children’s diapers, baby wipes, maternity clothes, breast milk pumps, baby bottles, tampons and other period products from sales tax.

Electric vehicle fee

Senate Bill 505 requires electric vehicle owners to pay a $400 fee when they register a new car and $200 each time the vehicle’s registration is renewed. The money goes to the State Highway Fund, which is largely used for public road projects. Part of that fund’s financing is fuel tax revenue. The fee for electric vehicles is meant to replace the lost gas tax revenue.

Illegal dumping penalty

Senate bill 1346 extends the crime of illegal dumping to the person who ordered the dumping, not just the person carrying it out.