Central Austin Edition - September 2021

AT THE CAPITOL

New statewide abortion, alcohol and gun laws took effect Sept. 1

Over 600 new laws went into effect Sept. 1 in Texas. A new abortion bill, two alcohol bills and a gun bill all became laws Sept. 1 as signed by Gov. Greg Abbott over the past fewmonths. COMPILED BY ZARA FLORES

SENATE BILL 8 THE HEARTBEAT BILL

HOUSE BILLS 1024, 1518 ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

In a law that opposes Roe v. Wade, the “heartbeat” bill went into effect Sept. 1, restricting women from having an abortion starting at six weeks into pregnancy. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals canceled a hearing planned for Aug. 30, when over 20 abortion providers hoped to persuade the law to be blocked. during an ultrasound is detected—was signed May 19. The law includes a medical emergency exception, but it does not offer an exception to victims of rape, sexual assault or incest. Anyone who seeks an abortion or helps someone receive an abortion for any reason can be sued by any private citizen. The heartbeat bill term—which was coined because abortions will not be allowed once a heartbeat Since SB 8 was signed into law in May, organizations such as Planned Parenthood and individual physicians have taken action through a federal lawsuit due to a possible violation of constitutional rights, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit cited that many women do not know they are pregnant by the six-week mark and claims the bill could cause damage to Texans, especially people of color.

Born as a result of the pandemic, Abbott made to-go alcohol a permanent feature for restaurants and bars May 12 with the signing of this bill. HB 1024 allows beer, wine and mixed beverages to be picked up with to-go orders or delivered to patrons, so long as the order also includes food. When COVID-19 struck the United States and shut down all but essential services, Abbott signed a waiver allowing alcohol to be more readily available, which helped keep some of the service industry afloat. Now, it is not an exception but a law. Drinks may be ordered via a third-party ordering service and must be delivered within the county where the business is located. There is no required food-to-alcohol ratio, and the recipients must prove valid identification and cannot already be intoxicated. Additionally, HB 1518, signed May 17, allows retailers to sell alcohol starting at 10 a.m. instead of noon on Sundays. None of the other days of the week are affected, and alcohol is still allowed to be sold starting at 7 a.m.

SOURCE: CAPITOL.TEXAS.GOV/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

HOUSE BILL 1927 PERMITLESS CARRY

Texans will no longer need any training or a license to openly carry a handgun with the signing of HB 1927 on June 16. The state joins 19 other states that have a “constitutional carry” law, or a law that does not require a permit. Prior to this new bill, applicants were required to submit their fingerprints, undergo up to six hours of training, and pass a written exam and a shooting test. HB 1927 now makes it optional. The same eligibility requirements apply at being 21 years old, passing a background check and not having a felony or domestic violence conviction. However, guns are still banned in places such as hospitals, amusement parks and correctional facilities, to name a few.

Voting bill signed into law after long legislative fight, effective 2022

someone who did not request it. Its authors tout the bill as neces- sary to address election security, but its opponents, including Democrats in the Legislature who fled the state for several weeks in order to break quorum and hold up a vote on the bill, said there is little evidence of voting fraud. They said the bill restricts voting rights and makes it harder for marginalized groups to vote. The legislature took up the bill during the normal session. Abbott then called two special sessions. It

eventually passed during the second session when enough Democrats had returned to meet quorum. The law gives poll watchers more flexibility to observe every step of the vote counting process, and it also requires poll watchers to undergo some training. The law will go into effect three months after the legislative session, meaning it will not affect the Nov. 2 election, but it could impact the upcoming elections in 2022. There are several court cases pending, which could affect its implementation.

BY DARCY SPRAGUE

current 100,000 cutoff. However, it bans drive-thru

On Sept. 7, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1, legislation about voting and election security, into law. The law expands voting hours in some areas by requiring counties to keep polls open at least 12 hours during the second week of early voting in counties with over 55,000 residents, which differs from the

voting and overnight voting, limiting poll hours to 6 a.m.-10 p.m. It also tightens voting by mail restrictions, including requiring individuals to provide either their driver’s license or Social Security number on the appli- cation and ballot envelope. It makes it a criminal offense to mail a ballot to

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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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