The items identified on his proclamation include each one from the first special session call, as well as a couple of new appearances. The repeat items are:
- Bail reform
- Election reform
- Border security
- Social media censorship
- Article X funding
- Family violence protection
- Requirement for student-athletes to compete within their own sex
- Restriction on abortion-inducing drugs
- Supplemental payment to the Teachers Retirement System
- More comprehensive critical race theory ban
- Property tax relief
- Foster care system appropriation
- Cybersecurity appropriations
The new additions include:
- Appropriations from COVID-19 federal relief funds
- COVID-19 response in schools
- Primary election date modifications
- Radioactive waste storage and transportation
- State employment regulations to preempt local ordinances
- Legislative quorum requirements
“The Texas Legislature achieved a great deal during the 87th Legislative Session, and they have a responsibility to finish the work that was started,” Abbott said in a release.
“I will continue to call special session after special session to reform our broken bail system, uphold election integrity, and pass other important items that Texans demand and deserve. Passing these Special Session agenda items will chart a course towards a stronger and brighter future for the Lone Star State.”
House Democrats fled the state early in the current special session in an attempt to block the passage of Republicans’ proposal aimed to bolster election security, claiming that the measures will suppress votes.
While the Senate maintained its quorum and was able to give initial approval to the governor’s priority items, nothing has been able to pass entirely with the absence of over 50 Democrats in the House.
Following the July quorum break, Abbott said he would call “special session after special session … up until the 2022 midterms if necessary” to pass his priority items. The governor also hinted at vacating the seats held by truant Democrats and ordering special elections to fill them.
It is unclear whether Texas Democrats will continue their quorum break efforts in August, but the political and monetary capital to continue the endeavor is not infinite. Those Democrats have hedged their bets on Congress approving federal election reform legislation that would usurp state laws. But to date, their efforts have been unsuccessful as Republicans have filibustered the bill in the U.S. Senate.
While the House Democrats intentionally chose to flee to Washington, D.C. to frame the quorum break as adding pressure on Congress, Reps. Julie Johnson (D-Farmers Branch) and Jessica González (D-Dallas) have reportedly taken the trip overseas on a European vacation.
Pressure on the Texas Democrats to return might mount ahead of the fall, as a special session looms for redistricting.
Given the complications that arose due to delays with the release of census data, redistricting for state districts could potentially move to the Legislative Redistricting Board — comprised of all Republican officials — which could take away what influence Democrats would have if the process stayed within the legislature.
This special session is the last chance for the legislature to restore its 2022-2023 funding before the new fiscal year begins on September 1. If Article X funding is not restored by then, the legislators, their staff, and adjacent agencies will lack funding to operate.
Abbott vetoed Article X after the initial May quorum break occurring on the final day of the regular session that was aimed at killing the election reform bill. Currently, the Texas Supreme Court is considering whether that move was constitutional but no ruling has yet been announced.
One legislator, Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), proposed legislation that would strip the governor of that line item veto power, but it cannot be taken up until the next regular session.
During special sessions, the legislature may only take up legislation related to the items identified by the governor’s proclamation. Starting on Saturday, August 7 at noon, the legislature’s 30-day clock begins again to complete this set of tasks bestowed by Abbott.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.