Governor Greg Abbott calls second Special Session, Dems still in D.C.
AUSTIN, Texas - Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Wednesday he will be calling a second Special Session of the 86th Texas Legislature. It is set to convene at 12:00 p.m. Saturday, August 7.
This comes almost immediately after the end of the previous special session, during which Texas House Democrats left Austin for D.C. in order to break quorum, primarily to stop an election bill that has been in a stalemate since the regular session.
Most of the 57 Democrats who left have so far remained in D.C. despite Abbott previously stating he intended to call this second session. In order to prevent a quorum 51 Democrats would need to remain out of the House chamber.
Many items on the agenda for this second Special Session carry over from the session that just ended, including the controversial election legislation.
"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," said Governor Abbott echoing comments he made at the convening of the first special session.
A notable new agenda item in place for this Special Session is legislation relating to quorum requirements, which comes on the heels of two back-to-back quorum breaks by walkout in the regular session and first Special Session.
2 of the biggest items on the agenda carry over directly from the first special session:
Legislation aiming to reform the bail process in order to make it more difficult for criminals with a violent history to gain bond. This bill also seeks to ban organizations, such as the ones who assist protestors, from posting bail for individuals with a violent history.
HB 20 passed both chambers of the Texas Capitol during the regular legislative session, however, a final version was not voted on in the aftermath of the election bill walkout.
Senate Bill 7 was one of the most controversial items in the 87th Legislative Session. The debate on this bill lead to a walkout not seen in Texas politics in nearly 20 years.
The bill sought to prohibit ballot drop boxes and mail-in voting. The bill also limits early voting hours to between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., with the exception of Sunday mornings.
Republicans argue that this bill is one supporting election integrity, while Democrats have said this is a voter suppression bill particularly targeting voters of color and those with disabilities.
This legislation has sparked protest and discussion at the Federal level, with activists and Democratic leaders calling on Congress to pass the For the People's Act.
Other items on the agenda include:
- FEDERAL RELIEF APPROPRIATIONS: Legislation regarding appropriating funds from available revenues for COVID-19.
- EDUCATION: Legislation regarding public-school education in pre-K through twelfth grade during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- BORDER SECURITY: This item concerns legislation providing funding to support Texas's border security plan. This includes law-enforcement agencies and other assistance at the border itself. Gov. Abbott has taken a firm stance on border security, particularly in light of what Republicans are saying is a mishandling of the border by President Joe Biden.
- SOCIAL MEDIA CENSORSHIP: Legislation safeguarding the freedom of speech by protecting social-media users from being censored by social media companies based on the user’s expressed viewpoints.
- ARTICLE 10 FUNDING: Legislation regarding the funding of the legislature. Abbot had said he will veto an article in the state budget that funds the legislative branch after the walkout.
- FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION: Legislation requiring schools to provide appropriate education to middle and high school students about dating violence, domestic violence, and child abuse, but that recognizes the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction. Previously, this bill was vetoed as it did not offer an ability for parents to opt-out.
- YOUTH SPORTS: Controversial legislation disallowing transgender athletes from competing in University Interscholastic League athletic competitions designated for the sex opposite to the student’s sex at birth.
- ABORTION-INDUCING DRUGS: Legislation that prohibits people from providing abortion-inducing drugs by mail or delivery service, strengthens the laws applicable to the reporting of abortions and abortion complications and ensures that no abortion-inducing drugs are provided unless there is voluntary and informed consent.
- THIRTEENTH CHECK: Legislation relating to a "thirteenth check" or one-time supplemental payment of benefits under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
- CRITICAL RACE THEORY: Legislation concerning the ban of teaching critical race theory in schools as originally passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular Session.
- APPROPRIATIONS: Legislation providing appropriations from additional available general revenue for the following purposes: property-tax relief, enhanced protection for the safety of children in Texas’ foster-care system by attracting and retaining private providers for the system, and better safeguard the state from potential cybersecurity threats.
- PRIMARY ELECTIONS: Legislation modifying the filing periods and related election dates, including any runoffs, for primary elections held in Texas in 2022.
- RADIOACTIVE WASTE: Legislation reforming the laws governing radioactive waste, including further limiting the ability to store and transport high-level radioactive materials.
- EMPLOYMENT: Legislation the state describes as "shielding private employers and employees from political subdivision rules, regulations, ordinances, and other actions that require any terms of employment that exceed or conflict with federal or state law relating to any form of employment leave, hiring practices, employment benefits, or scheduling practices."
- STATE LEGISLATURE: aforementioned legislation relating to quorum requirements.
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