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College DEI offices now illegal, among other laws taking effect on New Year's Day

Posted at 9:07 PM, Jan 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-01 22:07:06-05

TEXAS — New Texas laws took effect Monday as part of the 88th Legislative Regular Session.

About 30 bills went to effect including anticipated changes to public university's DEI offices, the juvenile criminal justice system and property taxes.

Diversity, equity and inclusion offices are now illegal at public colleges and universities, according to Senate Bill 17.

The bill shuts down DEI training for faculty and staff and diversity initiatives in the hiring process.

The bill states that the purpose of the bill is to prohibit universities from "requiring or giving preferential consideration for certain ideological oaths or statements that undermine academic freedom."

It comes after calls from Gov. Greg Abbott that claimed the practice was illegal.

The issue was also heightened during the summer when Texas A&M University tried to hire former New York Times editor and journalism professor Kathleen McElroy.

The school held a public signing ceremony, but lowered her offer after a conservative website disputed the offer.

But this bill will not affect instruction.

The state legislature is also making changes to laws when it comes to minors.

House Bill 3186 allows minors who are charged with Class C misdemeanors to complete "diverson programs," which aim to find alternatives to punishment.

Minors can undergo programs like mandatory mental health treatment, community service and alcohol and drug education programs.

Courts can also assign a service to track progress.

The child is only eligible once every 365 days.

House Bill 4758 is also targeting minors.

It restricts e-cigarette advertising.

It's now a misdemeanor for retailers to sell products that use food, celebrities or cartoon characters on packaging.

It's an effort to reduce teen vaping, which prompted schools to enact harsher punishments for the 2023-2024 school year.

The House and Senate are also making some adjustments for residents 65 years old and older.

Senate Bill 1381 allows certain tax exemptions to carry over to a spouse if the person dies in a tax year, and House Bill 4077 is transferring the responsibility for homestead exemption applications.

Seniors are no longer responsible for having to apply, but local appraisals districts are.

More bills can be viewed online at the Legislative Reference Library of Texas.