Issue 21 – July 19th
Governor Abbott called a Special Session to begin on July 8th and set the below listed bullet items as the agenda. The rules for a Special Session establish the timeframe as 30 days and restricts the debate of the legislature to only those items on the Governor’s Call.
Proving once again that Fact is Stranger than Fiction –
The two items currently causing the most turmoil are Election Integrity and Article X Funding. Democratic Representatives walked out during the 87th Regular Session preventing a quorum that led to the death of Election Integrity legislation at that time. As a result, the Governor chose to zero-line-item Article 10 in the State Budget. Without corrective action state employees working in the legislature, legislative budget board, legislative council, and others will not be paid after September 1st. A lawsuit has been filed with the Texas Supreme Court calling the Governor’s action an unconstitutional overreach in the separation of powers. Meanwhile a large enough contingent of Democratic lawmakers has fled the state to Washington DC to once again prevent a quorum to vote on Election Integrity during the Special Session as well. Without a quorum the Article X employee salaries and all other issues on the Call are also dead. The Speaker of the House has held a vote of those Representatives present authorizing the arrest of those members that are absent. Governor Abbott indicates he will continue to call further special sessions every 30 days until his agenda is taken up.
Where all this activity will lead or what will be the final consequence remains unknown for now. What we do know is sometime after September 1st the US Census data will finally be available for some of the most contentious work any legislators do – Redistricting. This will prove even more challenging as Texas adds two new US Congressional seats.
Special Session agenda items will include:
- 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.