Special to the News-Standard
AUSTIN – Gov. Greg Abbott signed laws to empower Texas parents, protect Texans from the growing national fentanyl crisis, and safeguard women’s sports passed during the 88th Regular Legislative Session at the Texas Capitol.
At the bill signing ceremony last week, Abbott signed a transformative package of four laws that empower parents in the educational decisions of their children. On Wednesday, he took significant action in the fight against deadly fentanyl, signing four laws that will save countless lives.
Abbott also signed laws protecting the integrity of women’s collegiate sports in Texas.
On Monday, Abbott signed four transformative parent empowerment laws that will give parents access to course curriculum, allow parents to determine if their child should repeat a grade, remove inappropriate books from libraries schools, and support students with special needs.
“Today, I will sign four bills into law that grant parents more rights in the education of their children,” Abbott said. “One of those bills transforms school curriculum, improving it for Texas parents, students, and teachers. We will empower parents of students with special needs with the tools and resources they need to provide their child with the best education.
I will also sign a law where parents — not school administrators — have the option to determine whether it’s in the child’s best interest to repeat a grade level. Additionally, parents deserve to know what books are in school libraries. I’m signing a law that gets inappropriate or vulgar materials out of our schools.”
Abbott was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Sen. Brandon Creighton; Reps. Charles Cunningham, Lacey Hull, and Jared Patterson; Texas Public Policy Foundation CEO Greg Sindelar and Campaign Director Mandy Drogin; Texas parents; and other parent empowerment advocates.
•House Bill 900 (Patterson/Paxton) prohibits the possession, acquisition, and purchase of harmful library material that is sexually explicit, pervasively vulgar, or educationally unsuitable. In November 2021, Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Association of School Boards to ensure no child is exposed to sexually explicit or other inappropriate content at a Texas public school.
•House Bill 1605 (Buckley/Creighton) allows parents to access and review instructional materials and requires districts to provide teachers with a full sequence of instructional materials so they do not have to devote personal or planning time to develop instructional materials themselves.
•House Bill 1926 (Hull/Paxton) removes the $30 million cap on the total amount of funds that may be appropriated for the Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES) program each fiscal year. This bill expands access to more students who need these critical services. In October 2020, Abbott established the SSES program to offset learning disruptions caused by school closures.
•House Bill 3803 (Cunningham/Paxton) allows parents to determine if their child should repeat a grade level for 4th through 8th grades or a high school level course. Texas students in grades four through eight are eligible to retake any course in which they were enrolled in the previous year unless the student has already met all requirements for graduation.
Surrounded by families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl, Abbott also took a significant step forward Wednesday in the fight against the deadly opioid, signing four key laws to prosecute fentanyl deaths as murder, ensure death certificates reflect when people are poisoned by fentanyl, provide more life-saving NARCAN to Texas universities, and educate young Texans about the dangers of fentanyl.
“The fentanyl epidemic has taken far too many innocent lives, but thanks to the work by brave parents and loved ones, like those here today, we have made Texans aware of this crisis,” said Abbott. “These four laws will forever change Texas through new protections that will help save lives. In my State of the State address at the beginning of this session, I made curbing the fentanyl epidemic an emergency item. Today, I am signing four new laws that will save countless lives.”
Abbott was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Sens. Brandon Creighton, Donna Campbell, Joan Huffman, and Royce West; Reps. Craig Goldman, John Lujan, and Terry Wilson; Texas Against Fentanyl (TXAF) Founder Stefanie Turner; Leander High School alumna and student fentanyl advocate Jenna Mitchell; dozens of families who lost loved ones to fentanyl; and other fentanyl awareness advocates.
•House Bill 6 (Goldman/Huffman) creates a criminal offense of murder for supplying fentanyl that results in death, enhances the criminal penalty for the manufacturing or delivery of fentanyl, and requires deaths caused by fentanyl to be designated as fentanyl toxicity or fentanyl poisoning on a death certificate. Current law does not require such classification on a death certificate, with most fentanyl-related deaths currently classified as an overdose.
•House Bill 3144 (Lujan/Campbell) establishes October as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month to help increase awareness of the dangers of fentanyl.
•House Bill 3908 (Wilson/Creighton) also known as Tucker’s Law, requires public schools each year to provide research-based instruction on fentanyl abuse prevention and drug poisoning awareness to students grades 6 through 12. The bill also requires a designation of a Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Week.
•Senate Bill 867 (West/Rose) allows the distribution of opioid antagonists, including lifesaving NARCAN, to Texas colleges and universities to prevent opioid poisonings.
Then on Thursday, Abbott signed into law the Save Women’s Sports Act, which protects the integrity of women’s sports by prohibiting biological males from competing against female athletes at Texas colleges and universities.
“Today is an important day for female athletes across the state of Texas, including little girls who aspire to one day compete in college sports,” said Abbott. “Sports have inspired many women to cast bold visions and dreams of what they want to achieve. The legacy of women’s sports will be safeguarded for generations to come. Women in Texas can be assured that the integrity of their sports will be protected in our state.”
The was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Sen. Mayes Middleton and Donna Campbell; Reps. Caroline Harris, Tom Oliverson, and Valoree Swanson; former collegiate swimmer Jeri Shanteau; collegiate basketball player Kassidy Comer; powerlifter Jade Dickens; collegiate swimmer Ellie McLeod; collegiate volleyball player Makenna Miller; and other women’s sports advocates.
•Senate Bill 15 (Middleton/Swanson) prohibits a biological male from competing in a college-level athletic competition designated for a biological female athlete to maintain competitive fairness. The bill also creates a mechanism for people to seek injunctive relief against a Texas public college or university or intercollegiate athletic team if it violates the provisions of the bill.
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