87th LegislatureIssuesState HouseState SenateElection Reform, Border Security, Transgender Sports Bill on Governor Abbott’s Special Session Agenda

The legislature will convene Thursday to begin working on the agenda list that Governor Abbott has laid out.
July 7, 2021
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Governor Greg Abbott unveiled an agenda of 11 items for the legislature to tackle in its first special session of 2021 when it convenes later this week.

The whole agenda includes:

  • 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
  • Cyber security appropriation

Items like election reform, social media censorship, and a more comprehensive ban on critical race theory were already identified by Abbott as part of the agenda.

After House Democrats walked out of the chamber on the last night of the regular session — breaking quorum and killing various pieces of legislation, most notably the election bill — Abbott declared that he would call a special session to tackle some of those items in addition to the fall special dealing with redistricting and federal coronavirus funds.

Another bill that died that night was bail reform, which was among Abbott’s emergency item list. It is included on the special session call.

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Abbott then vetoed Article X of the state budget which governs funding for the legislature due to, in his words, the legislature not “showing up and doing their job.”

House Democrats petitioned the Texas Supreme Court to block Abbott’s veto of legislative funding and also appealed to Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) earlier this week to commit to stalling any special session agenda item until Article X funding is restored.

Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), the chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, criticized Abbott’s special session agenda, saying that he should have focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing vaccination rates.

“The governor’s agenda for the special session shows he is more concerned with pandering to die-hard Trump supporters and right-wing extremists than he is with serving everyday Texans. Abbott’s agenda proves one thing: he is clearly panicked about his upcoming primary election,” said Turner.

Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) said that he was “pleased to find my request for addressing the border” on Abbott’s list of items, he was “hopeful” that the governor “will add a ban on vaccine mandates and ban on gender mutilation.”

“Governor Abbott has announced the agenda for the Special Session that begins tomorrow. I am ready to get to work on these important priorities for Texas,” said Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe).

Other items on Abbott’s agenda include a similar task as the 2019 “Super Bowl Session” — a call for property tax relief and another financial payment into the Teacher’s Retirement System.

The list also features an abortion-related item, a restriction on the use of abortion-inducing drugs, and increased committment to border security through a “comprehensive plan.”

The day before Abbott released the agenda, Phelan announced the creation of a new committee: the House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies. “The issues that will be submitted by the Governor for our consideration in the upcoming special session impact some of the most fundamental rights of Texans under the U.S. and Texas Constitutions,” Phelan said. 

“These issues, by their very nature, are complex. A select committee with expanded membership and expertise is the ideal forum for ensuring the thoughtful consideration of diverse viewpoints as these constitutional issues are expressed, debated, and decided by the House.”

The committee will be chaired by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) and vice-chaired by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston). 

The other members on the body include:

  • John Bucy (D-Austin)
  • Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches)
  • Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth)
  • Jacey Jetton (R-Richmond)
  • Ann Johnson (D-Houston)
  • Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth)
  • Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa)
  • J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville)
  • Oscar Longoria (D-Mission)
  • Joe Moody (D-El Paso)
  • Victoria Neave (D-Dallas)
  • Matt Shaheen (R-Plano)
  • James White (R-Hillister)

The legislature will convene Thursday morning to begin the 87th Legislature’s first special session.

At least one other special session is expected later this year for legislators to tackle redistricting and allotting federal COVID-19 funds.

Read the governor’s proclamation here.

Daniel Friend contributed to this report.

Update: This article has been updated to include responses from lawmakers.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is 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.