As the 86th Texas legislative session nears its end on May 27, here are a few bills that The Daily Texan has previously reported on to keep up with after the end of the semester.
Senate Bill 9 by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, would require both electronic and paper ballots during elections starting in the 2024 general election. The bill would also increase penalties for voter fraud. Some state Democrats said the bill would restrict voters who make errors on their registration. SB 9 passed out of the Senate and was referred to the House Elections Committee.
Senate Bill 18, authored by state Sens. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, would increase protections of free speech on college campuses. The bill would eliminate “free speech zones” and make all common outdoor areas public forums for free expression. It would also allow students to assemble and distribute written materials without permits or permission from universities. SB 18 was reported favorably out of the House Higher Education Committee and now waits to be scheduled for a House vote.
Senate Bill 21, also by Huffman, would raise the tobacco consumption age to 21, except for active military members. The bill passed out of the Senate with bipartisan support and was reported favorably out of the House Public Health Committee. It now waits to be scheduled for a House vote.
Senate Bill 25 by state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, would require universities to ensure that students who come from lower-division institutions receive a certain amount of transfer credit. SB 25 passed out of the Senate and was referred to the House Higher Education Committee.
Senate Bill 212, also by Huffman, would require universities to fire employees who are aware of an incident of sexual assault or harassment but fail to report it. Those employees would also be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. The bill passed out of the Senate and was left pending in the House Higher Education Committee.
Senate Bill 549, also by West, would regulate the use of electric scooters by banning them from sidewalks and requiring riders to be at least 16 years of age. SB 549 passed out of the Senate and has not yet been assigned a House committee.
Senate Bill 2373, also by Hughes, would allow state Attorney General Ken Paxton to file consumer protection lawsuits against platforms if they restrict users based on their viewpoints. Proponents of the bill say this would protect social media users’ free speech, while opponents say the bill would prevent social media platforms from regulating objectionable material. The bill has passed out of the Senate and awaits assignment to a House committee.
May 27 will be the last day of the regular session. June 16 is the deadline for Gov. Greg Abbott to sign or veto bills, and on Aug. 26 all signed bills — expect those that are effective immediately or specify a different effective date — become law.