After Gov. Greg Abbott announced a statewide mask mandate ahead of Independence Day weekend, calls from Texas lawmakers for a special session are growing in response to the string of unilateral executive orders coming from the governor’s office over the past several months.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, State Sen. Charles Perry (R–Lubbock) called for a special session of the legislature to prevent “overreach” from executive orders.
“The task of mitigating COVID-19 is a mountain of a task and that responsibility should not fall on one person’s shoulders. The legislative branch should have a more formal role in the state’s response, while staying true to the principles established by a free people,” said Perry. “This is why I urge Governor Abbott to convene a special session to allow the legislature to pass legislation and hold hearings regarding the COVID-19 response. It should not be the sole responsibility of one person to manage all of the issues related to a disaster that has no end in sight.”
State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood) agreed with Perry’s statement, adding, “It is past the time for the Texas legislative body [to] be involved in creating, changing or adding laws to ensure that the liberties guaranteed by the Texas Constitution are protected and that the best possible policies for all Texans are enacted.”
“It’s time for the executive overreach, confusing contradictions, and fear to end,” said Lang in a Facebook post. “Call a Special Session of the 86th Legislature immediately.”
“Now, Gov. Abbott is taking a move to the left of the Bexar County Judge…It’s time for the executive overreach, confusing contradictions, and fear to end. Call a Special Session of the 86th Legislature immediately.” –@RepMikeLang #txlege pic.twitter.com/TE9MWIlf9O
— Brandon Waltens (@bwaltens) July 2, 2020
State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler), who has compared Abbott to a king in recent weeks, continued the analogy, urging him in a post on Twitter to “put down your scepter. Pick up a pen. Call a special session of the legislature. Stop trampling the Constitution.”
@GovAbbott put down your scepter. Pick up a pen. Call a special session of the legislature. Stop trampling the Constitution. Want a mask mandate? See if the people who were elected to write laws will pass one. I say let Texans decide for themselves. #txlege
— Matt Schaefer (@RepMattSchaefer) July 2, 2020
In a string of tweets, State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R–Fredericksburg) called Abbott’s mask mandate “absurd,” adding, “Unless the Governor is willing to call a special session, as I and other legislators have requested, he bears the responsibility for all outcomes.”
Unless the Governor is willing to call a special session, as I and other legislators have requested, he bears the responsibility for all outcomes. Please know that I am and have been fighting to stop this madness. (3/3)
— Kyle Biedermann (@KyleBiedermann) July 2, 2020
State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) also echoed calls for a special session, saying “We need a special session now so legislators can pass laws, not Abbott.”
On his one-way conference call today, @GovAbbott thanked legislators for our input in his statewide mask mandate. This is odd since Republican legislators can’t even get a meeting or call with him. We need a special session now so legislators can pass laws, not Abbott. #txlege
— Rep. Tony Tinderholt (@reptinderholt) July 2, 2020
Other lawmakers have taken aim at the mandate itself.
“We should use common sense in doing our part to slow the spread, but fining people for not wearing a mask isn’t the answer,” said State Rep. Cole Hefner (R–Mt. Pleasant).
State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park), an attorney, offered to represent anyone for free if they are fined for not wearing a mask.
One of the strongest rebukes came from State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford), who said on Facebook, “Governor Abbott is a TYRANT and must be removed from office.”
“Liberty is under direct attack and cannot be ignored by Texans anymore. Action to replace this man must begin immediately,” he added.