87th LegislatureState HouseState SenateGov. Abbott Announces Third Special Session, Adds Redistricting and Four Other Items to Agenda

The next special legislative session to primarily address redistricting will begin in just a few weeks.
and September 7, 2021
On Tuesday evening, Governor Greg Abbott announced the subjects that will be covered in the third called session, set to begin on September 20, 2021, of the Texas legislature.

The primary issue will be redistricting — redrawing the state legislative and congressional districts in Texas using the results of the 2020 national census.

The governor has also included on the proclamation appropriations of COVID-19 relief funds, legislation requiring student-athletes in public schools to compete based on their biological sex, legislation related to government vaccine mandates, and legislation similar to a bill relating to the restraint of a dog that was approved by the legislature earlier this year but that addresses concerns expressed when Abbott vetoed it.

After the entirety of the first called session in July and most of the second one in August was lost to a quorum bust on the part of Texas Democrats, a number of items on Abbott’s list of priorities were left undone.

Those included the student athletes’ bill and COVID-19 relief funding, as well as legislative quorum rules and additions to state employment law meant to get ahead of local ordinances.

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In a statement after the legislature adjourned at the end of the previous special session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that he requested the governor to place the sports bill “on the special session call later this month,” and that the Senate “will pass it again.”

While House Democrats broke quorum during the last two called sessions, the bill they were attempting to block, the Election Integrity Protection Act of 2021, passed the legislature and Abbott signed it into law Tuesday. 

Though the legislature is set to tackle the issue of redistricting during the special session, some Democrats have said that doing so is unconstitutional.

Two senators, Sens. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) and Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin), filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that the legislature needs to hold off on redistricting until 2023 since the constitution states that it shall be completed during “its first regular session after the publication of each United States decennial census.”

On the last special session proclamation, Abbott included the possibility of reducing the legislative quorum to a simple majority as well as new state employment rules designed to preempt local ordinances. However, neither of those items passed and the governor did not include them on the agenda for the third special session.

This article has been updated to mention items not included on the third special session’s agenda.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."