No one who serves in the 85th Legislature was surprised by Governor Greg Abbott’s call for a special session to convene on Tuesday, July 18th. When the regular session adjourned on Memorial Day, most of the legislators knew that there were critical items which did not pass both houses that would bring us back in special session.
The primary reason the special session has been called is to pass legislation to continue the Texas Medical Board and several other licensing agencies. Such legislation, known as a “sunset bill” is necessary to prevent the automatic closing of a state agency after a pre-determined amount of time. The Governor emphasized that no other issues would be placed on the agenda until after the sunset bills pass.
After the sunset legislation is passed, the Governor said he will put an additional 19 items on the call of the special session. Those items are:
- A teacher pay raise of $1,000;
- Giving school administrators flexibility in teacher hiring and retention;
- School finance reform;
- School choice for special needs students;
- Rollback elections for property tax increases;
- Caps on state and local spending;
- Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land;
- Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects;
- Speeding up local government permitting processes;
- Municipal annexation reform;
- Preventing local entities from passing their own texting-while-driving bans;
- Restrictions on school bathroom use for transgender students;
- Prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues;
- Prohibiting the use of taxpayer funding to subsidize health providers that also perform abortion;
- Requiring women to get separate insurance policies to cover non-emergency abortions;
- Increasing existing reporting requirements when complications arise during abortions;
- Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders;
- Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud; and
- Extending the states maternal mortality task force.
Many of these issues were passed in the Senate during the regular session, but failed in many cases, to even come up for a vote in the House. Since they have already been vetted, the Senate should be able to make quick work of the agenda. At a cost of roughly $27,000 a day, it behooves both chambers to efficiently and effectively complete the people’s work.
The only items we can address in a special session are those that the Governor places on the call. Since both the House bill (HB 787 ) and Senate Bill (SB 83) passed out of their respective bodies with near unanimous support (House 145 – 0 and Senate 27 – 4) I, along with many others were surprised and disappointed that it was not included in the preliminary list. While it is totally his discretion, I remain hopeful that Governor Abbott will include securing the Texas electric grid in the call. Please pray with us that he will include this very important issue in the call.