A month after he announced his intent to call lawmakers back to Austin for a special session, Gov. Greg Abbott made the official declaration on Monday—a move that will allow lawmakers to begin filing bills for the 30-day session that will begin next Tuesday.
“With today’s proclamation, and with bill authors already lined up for all special session items, I look forward to working with the House and Senate to finish the people’s business,” Abbott said in a statement.
Though the governor has laid out 20 reforms he wants lawmakers to pass, topping the list is the passage of “sunset” legislation to extend the life of several government agencies – including the Texas Medical Board which would otherwise be forced to shut-down. Once that’s passed by the Texas Senate, Abbott has said he will add the other 19 items, which includes conservative priorities such as strengthening the state’s spending limit, protecting privacy, ending the automatic collection of labor union dues, and substantive property tax reform.
Already, Abbott has begun partnering with lawmakers in both chambers, tapping teams to carry his agenda and ensure that it passes during the special session. The move is a substantial pivot for Abbott who was largely removed from the legislative process during the regular session. However, liberal Republicans and Democrats are already thumbing their noses and moving to thwart the governor.
“The Senate is prepared to hit the ground running to pass the conservative agenda that both Gov. Abbott and I share for the call,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in response to the proclamation. “Senator Van Taylor, R-Plano, will file Senate Bill 20, the Sunset Bill, later today and other bills on the Special Session list will be filed over the next few days. Much of this conservative legislation has already passed the Texas Senate and all polling continues to make clear that this agenda has strong support from the people of Texas.”
Last month, House Speaker Joe Straus referred to Abbott’s robust, conservative agenda as “horse manure.”
Grassroots activists across the state are hoping that the governor will continue to take an active, aggressive role in the legislative process and leverage his political capital to ensure that conservative political victories are scored.