The regular legislative session is set to end today, but lawmakers should be prepared to come back for overtime.
At the beginning of the session, Gov. Greg Abbott announced seven priority items. When the session ends on Monday, only three of those priorities will reach his desk.
While the Legislature passed legislation addressing COVID mandates, the fentanyl crisis, and school safety, other priorities failed to reach the finish line, including:
- Border security
- Bail reform
- School choice
- Property tax relief
Texas’ part-time Legislature is known for meeting relatively infrequently, especially when compared to smaller states. While many state legislatures meet year-round or hold legislative sessions annually, the Texas Legislature holds its sessions every two years for 140 days. During that time, thousands of bills, of varying priority to citizens and statewide officials, are filed. The only business the Legislature is constitutionally obligated to pass, however, is a balanced biennial budget.
But what if the session ends and there is still business the governor wants to see completed? In that case, the governor is allowed to call a special session.
While bill subjects run the gamut during a regular session, a special session differs in that the only bills eligible for consideration are those on subjects chosen by the governor, or “on the call.”
Each special session may last for up to 30 days at a time. There is, however, no limit to how many special sessions the governor may call.
Abbott has already indicated that he would call multiple specials sessions in order to pass a meaningful school choice program. This is the first time since becoming governor in 2015 that the Legislature has failed to pass a majority of Abbott’s priority items. While it remains to be seen whether a special session would be called later in the year, there is some speculation in the Capitol that the call could be sooner than expected—or even immediate.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has embraced the possibility of a special session, telling Texas Scorecard in a recent interview that he never makes plans for the summer after session.