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Voting rights, critical race theory, abortion pills: 7 new laws go into effect today in Texas

The laws that go into effect come from the second special session, which adjourned in early September. (Pexels)

Several new laws from the Texas Legislature’s second special session will take effect Thursday, spanning controversial topics like voting rights, critical race theory and continued abortion restriction.

Though they take effect today, many of the bills have uncertain futures as they face opposition in the courts. Here are the seven bills to know about.

Voting restrictions: The highly-contested Senate Bill 1 will ban 24-hour voting, drive-thru voting, mail-in ballot ID requirements, protections for poll watchers and limits on polling places for the disabled or non-English speakers. The bill has been hit with six lawsuits—five from more than 20 civil rights organizations and one from the U.S. Department of Justice. Since law will stand trial in July, March 1 primaries will definitely be affected by SB 1.

Social site suits: House Bill 20 would allow social media users and the state attorney general to sue Twitter, Facebook or Youtube if their opinions are blocked or removed. The bill comes after complaints that conservative viewpoints were being censored surfaced around the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot. Though it was set to go into effect today, the bill was blocked by federal Judge Robert Pitman on Wednesday because it "prohibits virtually all content moderation," according to the filing. Companies contesting the bill, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, said they were not surprised about the outcome because the government "can't force a citizen or company to be associated with a viewpoint they disapprove of."

Critical race theory: Controversial SB 3 will bar teaching critical race theory, which teaches how racism shaped America through history, and mandate that racial topics be “free from political bias” in all grades. Though the theory is not part of official public school curricula, proponents argued that teaching the theory would foster a racial divide and alienate white students while opponents argued the law will whitewash history.

Abortion pills pulled: SB 4 limits the availability of abortion pills from under 10 weeks pregnant to seven weeks and prohibits that the medication be sent via mail or delivery. Once the law goes into effect, it will be a state felony for a doctor to prescribe the drug without an in-person exam prior.

Can’t do the time? Don’t do the crime: SB 6 prohibits judges from allowing violent offenders and felons to have no-cash bail. Certain sections of the bill, including limits on charity organizations that post bail and a newly-created system to report a defendant’s criminal history, won’t go into effect until January.

Violence safety training in schools: SB 9 requires that schools teach trainings on child abuse, family violence, dating violence and sex trafficking at least once in middle school and once in high school. The law requires that children receive parental permission to attend.

An unnecessary precaution: SB 13 would have delayed the Texas primaries in the event that more time was needed for redistricting for 2020 census changes. The maps were approved in the third special session, so primaries will remain on March 1.


Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation

🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway