While he stopped short of giving a specific time for the first special session, he indicated that it would address election integrity, bail reform, and potentially other issues. The other special called session, which will be held around September or October, will be specific to redistricting and the use of federal COVID-19 funding.
Abbott said, “I’m not going to engage in Monday morning quarterbacking, but I’ll treat this as halftime. We didn’t get this done in the first half, but we’ll get there in the second half.”
On May 30, a majority of Texas House Democrats walked out while they were considering the omnibus election integrity bill, or Senate Bill 7. This brought the total of legislators present under 100, therefore “busting quorum” and rendering the bill dead. It also meant that several other bills or conference committee reports that were waiting to be called up died as a result. One of those included the conference committee reports related to bail reform, like House Bill 20 or House Joint Resolution 4, which were also emergency legislative priorities of Abbott.
The following day, Abbott tweeted his intent to potentially defund the Legislature as a result.
In the week leading up to the end of the 87th Legislative Session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick publicly requested Abbott call a special legislative session in June to address what he deemed as conservative priorities that died in the House of Representatives. Abbott responded by calling Patrick’s request “goofy” and instead sought to lay out the structure by which he would call a special session on his terms.
What It All Means
All of this is happening with the backdrop of delayed redistricting processes due to delayed data, a delayed primary election cycle, and potential political maneuvering by Abbott himself for a rumored presidential run.
It is likely that Abbott would want to set up any special legislative session to end with success on his own legislative priorities, thus aiding his potential re-election efforts.
Abbott seemingly has to continue communicating that the 87th Legislative Session was successful while also having to admit that it failed to address two of his emergency legislative priorities, prompting any prospective special session.