Issue 22 – August 20th
Yesterday for the first time in nearly six weeks the Texas House declared a quorum for the Second Called Special Session. With one resignation bringing the total membership down to 149, and with eight Democrats counted present as well as many Republicans credited for earlier attendance, 99 members were declared present establishing a quorum.
The Race is On –
While the House has been unable to act on any bills until yesterday that didn’t prevent them from filing well over 200 bills and joint resolutions. Since the August 7th start of this Special Session the Texas Senate has had a quorum and thirteen bills already passed by the Senate were referred to House Committees yesterday. These Senate approved bill will be the frontrunners for passage in a very tight timeframe. Legislators only have until September 5th when the 30 day clock will expire for this session and everything has to start over again. Hanging over this deadline is the possibility of not being able to maintain a quorum
Special Session agenda items are set by the Governor and the only actions the legislature can take up:
- BAIL REFORM: Legislation reforming the bail system in Texas to protect the public from accused criminals who may be released on bail.
- ELECTION INTEGRITY: Legislation strengthening the integrity of elections in Texas.
- BORDER SECURITY: Legislation providing funding to support law-enforcement agencies, counties, and other strategies as part of Texas’ comprehensive border security plan.
- SOCIAL MEDIA CENSORSHIP: Legislation safeguarding the freedom of speech by protecting social-media users from being censored by social-media companies based on the user’s expressed viewpoints, including by providing a legal remedy for those wrongfully excluded from a platform.
- ARTICLE X FUNDING: Legislation providing appropriations to the Legislature and legislative agencies in Article X of the General Appropriations Act.
- FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION: Legislation similar to Senate Bill 1109 from the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, requiring schools to provide appropriate education to middle- and high-school students about dating violence, domestic violence, and child abuse, but that recognizes the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction.
- YOUTH SPORTS: Legislation identical to Senate Bill 29 as passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, disallowing a student from competing in University Interscholastic League athletic competitions designated for the sex opposite to the student’s sex at birth.
- ABORTION-INDUCING DRUGS: Legislation similar to Senate Bill 394 from the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, which prohibits people from providing abortion-inducing drugs by mail or delivery service, strengthens the laws applicable to the reporting of abortions and abortion complications, and ensures that no abortion-inducing drugs are provided unless there is voluntary and informed consent.
- THIRTEENTH CHECK: Legislation similar to House Bill 3507 from the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, relating to a “thirteenth check” or one-time supplemental payment of benefits under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
- CRITICAL RACE THEORY: Legislation similar to House Bill 3979 concerning critical race theory as originally passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular Session.
- APPROPRIATIONS: Legislation providing appropriations from additional available general revenue for the following purposes: property-tax relief; enhanced protection for the safety of children in Texas’ foster-care system by attracting and retaining private providers for the system; and to better safeguard the state from potential cybersecurity threats.
- COVID-19 FEDERAL RELIEF: allocation of money across the state.
- EDUCATION: ensure “students receive a high-quality education and progress in their learning; in-person learning is available for any student whose parent wants it; the wearing of face coverings is not mandatory; and COVID-19 vaccinations are always voluntary.”
- MODIFY ELECTIONS: filing periods and related election dates, including any runoffs, for primary elections held in Texas in 2022 due to new census data not being available for redistricting.
- RADIOACTIVE WASTE: limits on the storage and transportation in Texas.
- PROHIBIT POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS: rules, regulations, ordinances, and other actions that require any terms of employment that exceed or conflict with federal or state law relating to any form of employment leave, hiring practices, employment benefits, or scheduling practices.”
- LEGISLATIVE QUORUM: changing the requirements.