The 84th legislative session ended on June 1, 2015. See the bills that have become law.

Curated by

Patrick Svitek

Terri Langford

Enhancing gun rights

Between two armed rallies, countless emails and phone calls, and at least one social media thrashing of the lieutenant governor, gun rights activists made their presence felt in the Capitol from the opening day of the Legislature.

Texas lawmakers passed a measure to let permit holders carry holstered handguns openly ("open carry"). Since 1995, Texans have been able to carry concealed handguns if they take training and obtain a license. But the state was one of six that specifically prohibited the unconcealed display of handguns.

The lawmakers also approved a measure allowing concealed handguns to be carried on university campuses ("campus carry").

Some proposed measures this session call for lifting licensing requirements altogether — "constitutional carry" — but those bills were not successful.   

Updated: June 1, 2015

Reducing penalties for marijuana possession

Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that allows epilepsy patients to use medicinal cannabis oils, which contain a non-euphoric component found in marijuana.

But the Legislature did not otherwise lower penalties related to the possession of marijuana — medical or otherwise.

Most people arrested for marijuana possession are holding less than two grams. That small amount can mean up to six months in jail for the offender, along with a $2,000 fine. Minor marijuana possession cases tie up prosecutors and the state’s misdemeanor courtrooms every day in Texas, some lawmakers say. 

Updated: June 1, 2015

The fight over local control

With the new governor's nod of approval, the Legislature saw an influx of bills that sought to keep cities in check as they passed ordinances that some lawmakers saw as out of step with Texas values. 

Gov. Greg Abbott gave the cause a boost shortly before he took office, criticizing the “patchwork quilt” of local rules and regulations that could turn Texas into California, speaking against bans on plastic bag bans and fracking.

Abbott signed into law a bill outlawing fracking bans, such as the one voters in Denton passed into law in November 2014. Another bill passed by lawmakers would prevent cities from forcing landlords to accept federal housing vouchers. 

Other proposals did not gain traction. One would have prohibited cities from implementing any laws that are “more stringent” than state statute.

The lawmakers behind the proposals said they were simply looking to enforce certainty and conformity. Their critics, however, cried hypocrisy, pointing out many Republicans campaigned on reducing the influence of Austin in citizens' lives, not increasing it. 

Updated: June 1, 2015

Efforts to change voter ID

Since 2012, Texans have been required to show one of a handful of allowable photo identification cards to vote. Acceptable forms include a Texas driver’s license or recent state ID card, a concealed handgun license, a U.S. passport, a military ID card or a U.S. citizenship certificate with a photo. 

Lawmakers filed bills this session that would have done everything from expanding that list to having driver’s license photos printed on voter registration cards — but those measures all failed.


Updated: May 29, 2015

Changing the age of adulthood for criminal charges

Under Texas law, 17-year-olds who commit a crime can be charged and prosecuted as adults. But recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings conflict with that 1918 law, saying 18 is the age of adulthood.

Efforts to raise to 18 the age at which offenders automatically enter the adult legal system in Texas failed in 2015. Lawmakers did, however, pass a bill that ends the practice of sending students who skip school to the adult court system, and possibly to jail. 

Updated: June 1, 2015

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The Texas Legislative Guide was designed and developed by Becca Aaronson, Emily Albracht, Daniel Craigmile, Annie Daniel, Ben Hasson and Ryan Murphy for The Texas Tribune. The Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide concern.