The Back MicThe Back Mic: Patrick Teases Prolonged Legislative Session, Abbott Extends Early Voting, New Commissioner Announced

This week — the lieutenant governor expects an extended legislative session, the governor expands the early voting window, and a new commissioner is named.
July 31, 2020
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Dan Patrick Teases Extended 87th Session

First reported by the Texas Tribune’s Cassi Pollock, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick was quoted at an event for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce predicting that legislature could be in for a longer than usual session. 

“I’ve told my staff and I’ve told senators don’t plan any vacations until maybe after September 30 of next year,” said Patrick.

Set to begin in January 2021 and extend through the end of May, the scheduled 140-day legislative sprint could be extended with governor-instituted 30-day special sessions. Specific concerns have been raised about delays in census data reporting that will affect the legislature’s ability to take up redistricting.

Abbott Extends November’s Early Voting Period

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On Monday, Governor Abbott set October 13 as the beginning date for early voting, moving the window up a week from October 19. 

The governor said the move was made “to ensure that elections proceed efficiently and safely when Texans go to the polls to cast a vote in person during early voting or on election day,” specifically so that “election officials can implement appropriate social distancing and safe hygiene practices.”

The decision comes after months of Texas Democrats pushing for expanded vote-by-mail capabilities due to coronavirus concerns. Republicans responded in opposition, citing potential voter fraud as the basis for their refusal.

New Health and Human Services Commissioner Named

Abbott tapped a new agency commissioner in Cecile Young, replacing interim head Phil Wilson.

Young boasts a long career with the agency, has filled a myriad of roles there, and currently serves as the chief deputy executive commissioner.

According to the Health and Human Services (HHSC) website, Young “was the conference committee clerk for House Bill 7, which created the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.”

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McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor serves as Interim Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.