AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has kept lawmakers somewhat in suspense over the last few days regarding what will be taken up during the special legislative session that is slated to begin Thursday and last up to a month.
The governor released the agenda Wednesday morning, and it includes 11 items, some of which were anticipated. Notably, there is nothing in the agenda addressing the Texas power grid or access to health care.
The items are as follows:
Election Integrity: Texas House Democrats made national headlines when they broke quorum during the 87th legislative session, walking out of the Texas House and preventing a vote on what Republicans called an election integrity bill and critics have referred to as voter suppression. The legislation has been curtailed since then but it remains a fight.
Bail Reform: Abbott and Texas Republicans classify this as reform to the Texas bail system that would prevent dangerous criminals from being released on bail in many instances. Critics have stated that proposed legislation does nothing to address the problem of nonviolent people who can’t afford bail being left in jail for weeks before trial.
Border Security: Abbott describes this as an effort to raise funds for law enforcement in order to implement the state’s comprehensive border security plan.
Social Media Censorship: Republicans, including several from Texas, claim social media sites including Facebook and Twitter as a matter of policy censor conservative viewpoints. Abbott is suggesting a legal remedy for the perceived social media exclusion.
Article X Funding: From the governor’s office: “Legislation providing appropriations to the Legislature and legislative agencies in Article X of the General Appropriations Act.” At the conclusion of the legislative session, and in retaliation for Democrats preventing a vote on sweeping election measures, Gov. Abbott vetoed Article X of the state’s budget, preventing lawmakers and legislative staff from being paid.
Family Violence Prevention: This concerns legislation that directs Texas high schools and middle schools to educate students about dating violence, domestic violence and child abuse. The caveat in this instance is that Abbott wants parents to have the option to opt their kids out of this instruction.
Youth Sports: One of the more controversial items. Abbott and Republicans wish to prevent transgender student-athletes from taking part in sports programs that don’t align with the gender assigned to them at birth.
Abortion-Inducing Drugs: Texas already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Abbott would like lawmakers to prohibit people from obtaining abortion-inducing drugs via mail or delivery service.
Thirteenth Check: From the governor’s office: “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."
Critical Race Theory: Republicans in Texas and across the country are attempting to legislate in order to prevent critical race theory from being taught in schools. It already passed in the Texas Senate but Abbott appears to desire a more stringent law.
Appropriations: From the governor’s office: “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
- to better safeguard the state from potential cybersecurity threats."
This likely won’t be the only special legislative session in 2021. Capital Tonight will have a complete breakdown of the session agenda beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday.