Which Items are on the Agenda for Governor Abbott’s 2nd Special Session?

After Democrat lawmakers scuttled the first special session by fleeing the state (including some vacationing in Europe) and denying a quorum, Governor Greg Abbott has called for a second special session to begin on August 7.

The Texas Governor alone has the power to call special sessions and pick the agenda items under Article III, Sections 5 and 40, and Article IV, Section 8 of the Texas
Constitution.

Abbott’s call includes 17 items for the legislature to address, including election law reform-the big sticking point in the last special session. It also includes Abbott’s top priority of bail reform, and a multiple items related to appropriating Covid-19 emergency funding.

The governor also threw in plenty of red meat, hot button items for the GOP base, including legislation related to Critical Race Theory in schools and social media censorship. Abbott is facing three challengers from the right in the upcoming 2022 primary, and is seeking to burnish his conservative bona fides.

Notably, there is an item related to modifying the dates for the 2022 primary cycle. Redistricting could push back the filing deadline back months, as well as the primary election day.

The very last item on the list relates to quorum requirements for the legislature, no doubt inspired by the Democrat exodus which prevented business from being done in the first session. Most House Democrats remain outside the state. They have not stated when they will return. Two House members are reportedly vacationing in Portugal (while still receiving a per diem at taxpayers’ expense).

The complete list of all 17 special session items is below:

  1. Legislation reforming the bail system in Texas to protect the public from
    accused criminals who may be released on bail.

2. Legislation strengthening the integrity of elections in Texas.

3. Legislation providing appropriations from unappropriated available revenues
for COVID-19-related healthcare expenses

4. Legislation providing strategies for public-school education in
prekindergarten through twelfth grade during the COVID-19 pandemic

5. Legislation enhancing criminal laws or providing funding from
unappropriated available revenues to support law-enforcement agencies,
counties, and other strategies as part of Texas’ comprehensive border security
plan.

6. Legislation safeguarding the freedom of speech by protecting social-media
and email users from being censored based on the user’s expressed
viewpoints, including by providing a legal remedy for those wrongfully
excluded from a platform.

7. Legislation providing appropriations from unappropriated available revenues
to the Legislature and legislative agencies in Article X of the General
Appropriations Act.

8. Legislation similar to Senate Bill 1109 from the 87th Legislature, Regular
Session, 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.

9. Legislation identical to Senate Bill 29 as passed by the Texas Senate in the
87th Legislature, Regular Session, disallowing a student from competing in
University Interscholastic League athletic competitions designated for the sex
opposite to the student’s sex at birth.

10. Legislation similar to Senate Bill 394 from the 87th Legislature, Regular
Session, which 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.

11. Legislation similar to House Bill 3507 from the 87th Legislature, Regular
Session, relating to a “thirteenth check” or one-time supplemental payment of
benefits under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

12. Legislation similar to House Bill 3979 concerning critical race theory as
originally passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular
Session.

13. Legislation providing appropriations from unappropriated available revenues
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
• to better safeguard the state from potential cybersecurity threats.

14. Legislation modifying the filing periods and related election dates, including
any runoffs, for primary elections held in Texas in 2022.

15. Legislation reforming the laws governing radioactive waste to protect the
safety of Texans, including by further limiting the ability to store and
transport high-level radioactive materials in this state.

16. Legislation 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.

17. Legislation relating to legislative quorum requirements.

You can read Abbott’s proclamation calling the special session here.

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