AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Several Texas laws passed in 2021 will have an impact on Texas politics and voters’ decisions for years to come.
That includes the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, new voting regulations and bills to fix our power grid after its failure in February.
“Usually the legislature in Texas is somewhat limited in how much they can accomplish in 140 day session. But this year, we had three special sessions, and a really strong appetite, especially among Republican legislators to make this extremely, if not one of the most conservative sessions that Texas has ever seen,” Joshua Blank with the Texas Politics Project explained.
The Texas abortion law, Senate Bill 8, made national headlines this year. It allows citizens to sue anyone who aids or abets an abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected in the womb, which happens as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
It’s still in effect, for now, after the U.S. Supreme Court sent it back to work its way through district court in Texas.
But a future Supreme Court decision in the spring, on the Mississippi Dobbs case, could make the topic a pivotal campaign point in 2022.
That’s because Texas has another law already in place, stating if the high court overturns Roe versus Wade, all abortions in Texas will be banned.
“If the Supreme Court makes a decision that essentially leads Texas to outlaw the practice of abortion in the state, it’s going to be hard for it not to be center stage as one of the issues in the 2022 campaigns,” Blank said.
Texas also passed new voting regulations this year, banning 24-hour and drive-thru voting, and adding requirements for voting by mail.
Blank says he expects Democrats to keep this issue at the forefront of their campaigns – trying to garner support at the national level to walk back some of Texas’ restrictions.
“As long as Democrats at the national level can’t come to terms with whether or how to address voting rights, it’s going to remain a part of the conversation,” Blank said, adding that the topic is also a big motivator for Democratic voters to get to the polls.
Another issue lawmakers tackled that affected millions of Texans last February: the failure of our power grid.
“We should expect democrats to continue talking about the winter storm in the aftermath because they want to make the ’22 election as much as they can a referendum on the incumbent administration, both Governor Abbott and Republicans in the legislature,” Blank said.
In fact, Democrats are already attacking Republicans, saying the bills passed to fix the grid won’t do enough.
“We need to fix the grid, which means weatherizing every single aspect of power supply from the generators, you know, owned and operated by the utilities to the actual supply of power, including, most importantly, the gas supply in Texas,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke said this week.
But the Governor and ERCOT both said this week the bills that were passed that require most entities to weatherize, but not all – will keep the lights on this winter.
When the bills were first signed by the governor in June, he said, “Bottom line is that everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid and texas.”
Blank said that voters’ decisions on the power grid will be heavily dependent on the winter Texas sees in 2022, and how the grid fares.