UPDATE: Gov. Greg Abbott called a special session on property taxes and border security.
AUSTIN––Texas lawmakers have officially gaveled out “Sine Die,” ending the 88th Legislative Session Monday evening.
During the 140-day session, several conservative priorities were passed, but many more remain undone, with school choice—a priority of Gov. Greg Abbott—being one.
Indeed, four of Abbott’s seven named priorities were left incomplete by lawmakers, who were busy impeaching Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the last few days of session as deadlines passed for key legislation to move forward.
Abbott has already indicated he will recall lawmakers to Austin for a special session on school choice. However, as landmark border security legislation, bail reform, and major property tax relief are also noticeably missing from the governor’s desk, House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) said he expects a special session to be called immediately.
The need for significant property tax relief threw a few wrenches on the final day of session as both chambers attempted to come to some compromise and pass a last piece of property tax relief legislation but ultimately failed.
Several members of the House, including State Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria), complained that the Senate was holding them hostage and they just wanted to go home.
Meanwhile, Democrats praised Phelan for his leadership in the House (while his own district isn’t happy with his lack of conservative leadership); Phelan explained he wants to work with them, stating “[We are] nothing like Washington D.C., nor should we strive to be like Washington D.C.”
In the absence of compromises between chambers, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has already announced what he wishes the governor to prioritize for a special session, including property tax relief, border security, election integrity, higher education reforms, bail reform, and school choice.
A special session ensures only the governor’s priorities are eligible for consideration by lawmakers. Each special session may last for up to 30 days at a time and the governor may call as many as he chooses.
Although the Texas Senate gave the House multiple chances to pass some version of school choice over the course of the regular legislative session, the House ultimately rejected all options.
Besides school choice, the Texas House killed measures relating to election integrity, informed consent, and border security.
On the flip side, lawmakers have managed to pass legislation banning child gender mutilation, sexual performances in front of children, and explicit books in school libraries. They also passed a few election security measures––although not all of the protections citizens requested. Additionally, legislation authorizing Abbott to form an interstate compact for border security is headed to the governor’s desk for final approval.
Citizens can use Texas Scorecard’s Elected Officials Directory to contact their lawmakers with any questions or concerns regarding the actions of the Texas Legislature.