On Wednesday morning, just one day before the state Legislature is slated to gavel in for their first special session since adjourning in May, Gov. Greg Abbott released the list of issues he would like the Legislature to address.
During a special session, only issues selected by the governor are allowed to be considered.
Abbott’s list includes the following 11 items:
- BAIL REFORM: Legislation reforming the bail system in Texas to protect the public from accused criminals who may be released on bail.
- ELECTION INTEGRITY: Legislation strengthening the integrity of elections in Texas.
- BORDER SECURITY: Legislation providing funding to support law-enforcement agencies, counties, and other strategies as part of Texas’ comprehensive border security plan.
- 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, including by providing a legal remedy for those wrongfully excluded from a platform.
- ARTICLE X FUNDING: Legislation providing appropriations to the Legislature and legislative agencies in Article X of the General Appropriations Act.
- FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION: 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.
- YOUTH SPORTS: 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.
- ABORTION-INDUCING DRUGS: 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.
- 13TH CHECK: Legislation similar to House Bill 3507 from the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, relating to a “13th check” or one-time supplemental payment of benefits under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
- CRITICAL RACE THEORY: Legislation similar to House Bill 3979 concerning critical race theory 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
- to better safeguard the state from potential cybersecurity threats.
In 2017, Abbott called a special session on 20 items. At the end of the session, fewer than half of them were meaningfully addressed.
When asked about a potential special session back in May, Abbott said he would take a different approach; instead of putting multiple items on the call, he said he would put one item on the agenda at a time.
”It will be one item placed on the agenda. Not until they pass that item [would] we move on to another item,” he explained at the time.
With today’s proclamation, however, Abbott seems to have abandoned that plan.
While high-profile items such as election integrity, critical race theory, and social media censorship made their way onto the list, a number of priorities of the Republican Party of Texas—including a ban on child gender modification, monument protection, and ending taxpayer-funded lobbying—were notably absent.
Abbott has said there will be multiple special sessions this year, as lawmakers are expected to return in the fall to address redistricting and the appropriation of additional federal funds.
The first special session is slated to begin tomorrow, July 8, and will last up to 30 days.