Around the Texas Capitol: New laws, an impeachment trail and legislator retirements

Around the Texas Capitol: New laws, an impeachment trail and legislator retirements

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Note: Content below was posted and current as of Sept. 18, 2023

Around the Texas Capitol:
New laws, an impeachment trial and legislator retirements

By Lauren Fairbanks and J Pete Laney
TAD Governmental Affairs

August was a relatively quiet month in Austin as legislators finally took a break before the upcoming special session expected this fall on school choice and an impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton that began Sept. 5 in the Texas Senate. The trial wrapped up on Saturday, Sept. 16, with senators (serving as the jury) acquitted the AG on each of the 16 Articles of Impeachment.

Sept. 1 marked the start of the state’s new fiscal year and an effective date for more than 774 new laws passed in the spring by the Texas Legislature. That’s more than half of the 1,357 bills signed by Gov. Greg Abbott – the rest had other effective dates, some immediately upon signature. You can find the list of all 774 bills that became law on Sept. 1 here.

Here are a few of the new laws – and laws-to-be – that the Texas dairy industry may find of interest:

Right to Farm

HB 1750: Relating to the applicability of certain city requirements to agricultural operations. This is a right-to-farm bill that protects the right to farm within city limits. Effective Sept. 1.

HB 2308: Relating to nuisance actions and other actions against agricultural operations. This right-to-farm bill protects agricultural producers from frivolous nuisance lawsuits. Effective Sept. 1.

HJR 126: Proposing a constitutional amendment protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture and wildlife management. This constitutional amendment will be on the ballot in November and, if passed by the voters, will place the right-to-farm protections in the Texas Constitution.


HB 2354: Relating to the eligibility of land to continue to be appraised for ad valorem tax purposes as qualified open-space land following a transfer to a surviving spouse. Ownership of land is not considered to have changed if the land is transferred from the former owner to the surviving spouse. Previously, if the ownership was transferred to a surviving spouse, then the new owner would have to reapply for open space or ag valuation. This legislation is intended to address that situation where the use continues to be the same. Effective Jan. 1, 2024.

Landowner Liability

HB 73: Relating to limitation of certain liability of owners, lessees and occupants of land in connection with livestock and agricultural land. Protects landowners (and lessees) from liability from damages caused by a trespasser, wildlife or an act of God. A good example is when someone cuts or damages a fence and livestock gets out and causes damage. There is a requirement that the landowner cure a resulting defect (the downed fence, for example) within a reasonable time. Effective Sept. 1.

SB 1133: Relating to a program to compensate landowners for property damage caused by certain criminal activities. Creates a reimbursement fund for a landowner’s damaged property. If no person or insurance can pay for damages caused to property by a trespasser, the new law sets forth the framework to establish a state fund to help pay for the damage to the landowner’s property. Effective Sept. 1.

Truth in Labeling

SB 664: Relating to the labeling of analogue and cell-cultured products. Creates transparency for the labeling of analogue and cell-cultured products. Effective Sept. 1.


Another important deadline is ahead in December, which feels like months away but will be here before we know it. Dec. 11 marks the last day for a candidate to declare their intent to run for office in the March 2024 primary election. Ahead of that deadline, several incumbent lawmakers are announcing retirements. A list of retirements to-date is included below. We’ll continue to update this list as announcements are made.

Retirement Announcements to Date:

HD 6. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) will not seek reelection.

HD 14. John Raney (R-College Station) will not seek reelection.

HD 29. Ed Thompson (R-Pearland) will not seek reelection.

HD 34. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) will not seek reelection.

HD 56. Doc Anderson (R-Waco) will not seek reelection.

HD 77. Lina Ortega (D-El Paso) will not seek reelection.

HD 80. Tracy King (D-Uvalde) will not seek reelection.

HD 87. Four Price (R-Amarillo) will not seek reelection.

HD 15. Julie Johnson (D-Carrollton) is running for Congress to replace Colin Allred.

But before we get to Dec. 11, a special election on Nov. 7 will fill the open seat for Texas House District 2, vacated by Bryan Slaton when he was expelled from the House earlier this year. The election is for the remainder of the two-year term, which expires in January 2025. Six candidates – five Republicans and one Democrat – have filed for the special election. The five Republicans are Jill Dutton, former president of Republican Women of Van Zandt; Heath Hyde, a Sulphur Springs attorney; Brent Money, a Greenville lawyer; Doug Roszhart, vice chair of the Hunt County GOP; and Krista Schild, a Hunt County precinct chair. The Democrat is Kristen Washington, a former member of the Greenville City Council. Early voting begins Oct. 23.

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