It’s always important to pay attention to our government and the laws that it imposes on the American public. With the history-making election of a president who lacks a political background and a polarized public opinion on several issues, it’s important to make sure that we are all aware.
Story by Alexis Tatum
The great state of Texas is known for being historically conservative and Republican. So far this year, many controversial bills have been introduced by a largely Republican legislature. Here’s a list some of the more contentious bills in progress in Texas.
Texas Senate Bill 6
“Relating to regulations and policies for entering or using a bathroom or changing facility; authorizing a civil penalty; increasing criminal penalties.”
SB6, more commonly known as the “Bathroom Bill,” has been in progress since last year. This bill would force people to use bathrooms based on the sex they were assigned at birth. SB6 sparked national debate on whether or not transgender people should be allowed to use bathrooms that correlate to their gender identity. It was proposed by Republican Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and has since been rejected and modified, but not passed. The last action regarding the bill was on March 16, 2017, and many people, including a multitude of students from the University of Texas at Austin, went to the Capitol to testify against the bill during its second hearing last month.
Texas Senate Bill 25
“Relating to eliminating the wrongful birth cause of action”
The proposed bill was approved by the Texas Senate in a 9-0 vote on March 22, 2017. Essentially, it will forbid parents from seeking legal reparations, or “cause of action,” if a mother gives birth to child with a disability. This limitation would be applied even if the physician failed to notify the parents of health complications or impending danger to the mother or fetus. Critics believe that this bill would enable doctors to lie to their patients about the health of their fetuses to eliminate the option of abortion.
Texas Senate Bill 1888
“Relating to limitations on the automatic admission of students to general academic teaching institutions and on the admission of nonresident students to The University of Texas at Austin.”
Introduced to legislation on March 23, 2017, the bill proposes a limitation on the number of students who are automatically admitted to public universities in the state based on their high school rank. Automatic admission is limited to in-state residents and typically makes up the majority of the freshman class each year. The proposed bill would lower the number of students automatically accepted to UT and other public universities to about half of the freshman class, starting in the 2019-2020 school year. This bill is important to perspective Longhorns, and is also stirring emotions because it shows remnants of Abby Fisher’s infamous lawsuit against the University of Texas. Fisher claimed that she wasn’t accepted into UT because of the affirmative action rule that requires the acceptance of a percentage of minority students. Since the popular 2013 case, there has been speculation in regards to the university’s admission policies.
Texas House Bill 375
“Relating to providing for the carrying of handguns without a license and to related offenses and penalties.”
With this law, Texas legislature is considering allowing all Texas residents to openly carry firearms—with or without a license. Often called “constitutional carry” by lawmakers, HB375 was introduced in 2015 with the belief that citizens should not have to pay a fee and take a class to exercise their first amendment rights. HB375 was proposed at the same time as the highly contentious SB 1907, otherwise known as the campus carry bill. Critics think that a bill that allows anyone to carry a gun is dangerous and unnecessary. If HB375 is passed, Texas will become the 11th state to allow constitutional carry.
If you strongly support or oppose any of these bills, there are many ways to find out more about what’s happening in your state legislation. For example, legiscan.com allows you to search for legislature at the state or federal level by name or by keyword.
You can also take action by contacting your senator or state representative. Senators and state representatives have public offices that can be contacted easily with a phone call. It may seem minimal, but making your voice heard can make a big difference.
The senate will also be holding a hearing for SB1888 on Wednesday, April 5 at 8:30 a.m.