Here Are Some Great Changes in Texas Law

November 8, 2021

It’s really astounding how much the Texas Legislature accomplished this year despite COVID-19 pandemic, Winter Storm Uri, AND the Democrat legislators fleeing to Washington, DC.  Yes, there is much more to be done—and I am eager to get back to work—but I was really encouraged today reviewing this list of highlights.  (And this list is far from complete.  We did much more!) 

Enhancing Border Security 

The Biden Administration has shown a blatant disregard for the human and drug smuggling crisis at our border.  The influx of illegal immigrants, human trafficking, and gang activity is at the highest levels we have ever seen. To counter this, Texas has deployed resources as never before.  We have allocated $3 billion to border security efforts, made a $250 million down payment to begin building the wall, deployed aircraft, boats, DPS troopers, Texas Rangers, the State Guard and National Guard, installed over 5,000 cameras, established the new Texas Task Force on Border & Homeland Security, and invoked the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to work collaboratively with neighboring states.  Texas is doing far, far more than any other state— arguably more than the federal government—to secure the border and combat drug and human trafficking.    

Ensuring Religious Liberty 

Almost all Texans would agree that the First Amendment unequivocally guarantees our freedom of religion, and that we have the right to gather in worship and exercise our rights without government’s interference.  Yet, during the height of the pandemic we witnessed those rights and freedoms being threatened.  Multiple bills were passed, including a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution that voters just adopted, to ensure that churches will not be ordered closed or services restricted again in Texas.  

Fighting Federal Overreach 

The Tenth Amendment was intended to hold Washington, DC in check by preventing federal encroachment into our individual liberties and leaving much authority to the states.  After all, the states created the federal government, not the other way around.  I authored and the Legislature passed SCR 12 that reasserts Texas’ sovereignty over all powers not specifically enumerated in the U.S. Constitution and thereby granted to the federal government.  This legislation is a formal demand from Texas to Washington calling on the federal government to stay in its lane and adhere to the Constitution.   

Second Amendment Protections 

Several preemptive measures to guarantee your right to defend yourself, your family, and your property were passed.  Most notable was the passage of Constitutional Carry that allows law-abiding Texans who are 21 and older to carry a handgun without a permit for personal protection, while observing safe gun practices.  We also passed other bills that prohibit gun and ammo stores from being shut down during a disaster.  Another bill removed federal restrictions on firearm suppressors that are manufactured here in Texas.  And yet another law passed makes Texas a sanctuary state, meaning local government and law enforcement can’t enforce unconstitutional federal gun laws proposed by the Biden administration.        

Protecting the Unborn 

Abortion is now prohibited in Texas after a fetal heartbeat is detected!  A new study released last week shows that we are already seeing a 50% decrease in abortions reported in Texas compared to the same month a year ago.  We also passed the pre-ban (trigger bill) on abortion which would allow Texas to fully and immediately ban abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.  During the second special session, legislation was also passed banning abortion-inducing drugs, such as RU-486, from being mailed and delivered as if it were an over-the-counter medicine.   We also approved $100 million in funding for Alternatives to Abortion programs and maintained the state’s ban prohibiting abortion providers from receiving state funds.        

Additional Property Tax Relief 

I authored and passed HB 3833 which will reduce property taxes by $472 million over the next five years by eliminating the interest on rollback property taxes.  Also, a constitutional amendment that will need voter approval in the May 2022 election will increase the residential homestead exemption levied for public school purposes from $25,000 to $40,000.  And the Legislature also passed a bill allowing homebuyers to receive their homestead exemption immediately after purchasing their property.  

Ensuring Election Integrity 

During the 2020 general election, a $250 million donation from Mark Zuckerberg was given to the Center for Tech and Civic Life, much of which was then dispersed to local government election offices in Texas.  These private funds were heavily funneled to large urban county election offices.  To stop this practice, which is ripe for fraud, I authored and the Legislature passed a bill that prohibits election offices from accepting private donations ensuring no undue influence. 

Also, other sweeping reforms for election integrity were passed making it much easier to vote and much harder to cheat.  Texas’ sweeping reforms may well become a model for the nation.  They provide practical changes to restore public confidence, including consistent statewide standards, simple and secure election processes, greater transparency mechanisms, and generally reduce unlawful voting practices.  We also funded full time state election auditors that will conduct random audits, review/investigate discrepancies, and help train election personnel.   

 Protecting UIL Sports for Girls 

Legislation was passed that protects girls’ UIL sports in Texas schools by ensuring girls are not forced to compete against boys.  

Back the Blue 

This year we not only passed several priority items to support our law enforcement but also defeated many measures proposed by liberals that would negatively impact law enforcement.  As a former police officer, it’s always a top priority to back our men and women in blue.  We passed legislation designed to prevent large cities and counties from defunding the police.  We passed bills to help prevent many of the violent protests we have recently seen.  We made it a crime to block emergency vehicles, such as happened recently in California, placing the lives of injured officers at risk.  We also allocated $139.2 million to increase law enforcement salaries and establish new content requirements for basic peace officer training with model curriculum.  

Combatting Critical Race Theory 

Legislation was passed during the regular session to ban the harmful teachings of Critical Race Theory in public schools.  In the second special session, we provided more clarity and strengthened that legislation and also included more civics training for our teachers to ensure civic values are taught in social studies education.  

Balanced Budget & Spending Limits 

The Legislature is tightening Texas’ belt, passing a lean budget that is smart with taxpayer dollars.  The budget totaled $248.5 billion and is a 3% decrease in total state funding.  We also put in place legislation to limit the growth of state government by capping government spending.  The new law very effectively limits the rate of growth in state spending by capping each new state budget by a factor of population growth adjusted for inflation.  This helps ensure future legislators face stringent spending constraints.       

Protecting Our Children and Retired Teachers 

We made a huge commitment to better fund our schools and teachers in 2019 and, despite having a leaner budget this year, we were able to fulfill that financial commitment.  In total, we allocated $46.5 billion for Texas public schools.    

Texas also approved a 13th check for our retired teachers of up to $2,400.  This was accomplished through a $701 million appropriation in the special session.  Additionally, we increased the state’s portion of teacher retirement contribution rates and maintained current health insurance premiums and benefits.      

Fighting Social Media Censorship 

We know that social media censorship is out of control and has a chilling effect on political discourse.  Legislation was passed to help safeguard our freedom of speech by protecting social media users from being censored for their express viewpoints.  This bill includes legal remedies for those wrongfully excluded based on a user’s viewpoint.  (My wife Terry, for example, was recently put in Facebook jail for a month for posting to our daughter that she needed to “kidnap the grandkids” and bring them to our home for the week.  This is how utterly foolish social media has become). 

Electricity Reform Measures  

After Winter Storm Uri caused catastrophic statewide power outages, the focus of the legislative session quickly shifted to the electric power industry.  Over a dozen substantive and very complex bills ultimately passed covering a range of issues from power generation to transmission and distribution to the retail electricity market.  This included the restructuring of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) and ERCOT, Texas’ grid manager. 

I authored and passed two of the bills that enable electric utilities to use mobile emergency power generation during widespread outages and another to help reduce emergency power outages and improve reliability by expediting the process for building new transmission lines.  I also added an amendment on a bill that permits electric utilities to operate load management programs for nonresidential customers to help reduce widespread outages. 

Other legislation requires new market and oversight rules regarding blackouts, penalties for lack of storm preparation and weatherization, a new statewide power alert system, consumer protection from sky-high electric bills, securitization financing for gas and utilities to recover extraordinary costs they incurred (so that costs won’t be passed on to consumers), and additional funding of over $4 million to enhance the PUC and oversee ERCOT activities.  


We fulfilled our constitutional and statutory duty to redraw the boundaries and balance out the population for the Texas House, Senate, State Board of Education, and Congressional maps.  The maps drawn by the legislature always undergo legal challenges but I am confident our maps are legally sound.

To view the final maps, click HERE and each map is located at the top of the redistricting website.  

Federal Relief & Recovery Funds 

During the regular session, we fought hard and amended the budget to require the Legislature to be involved in how the federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) were allocated.  $13.3 billion in funding was received by Texas and the appropriations were made as follows:

$7.2 billion for the Unemployment Compensation Fund to pay back outstanding advances received from the federal government. (These are funds that would have otherwise been paid by each business in Texas).

$2 billion to the Texas Department of State Health Services for surge staffing at hospitals and other facilities, purchasing therapeutic drugs (including drugs for monoclonal antibody treatments), and for operation of regional infusion centers.

$500.5 million to fund the expansion of broadband infrastructure.

$200 million for cybersecurity projects.

$160 million for grants to crime victims.

$150 million to deploy reliable next-generation 9-1-1 services.

$100 million to provide supplemental funding to food banks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This list is comprehensive but not at all exhaustive. 

The work of ensuring that Texas continues to implement fiscally responsible and conservative-based public policy is never done, but your Texas Legislature made a great deal of progress this year.