As the third legislative special session continues, the Texas Senate passed measures relating to school choice, border security, and ending COVID-19 employer vaccine mandates. 

Meanwhile, the Texas House referred a handful of measures to committees on Thursday morning. Only some of those measures—border security proposals sent to the House State Affairs Committee—relate to the governor’s agenda. 

Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for the special session includes the following:

  • Education Freedom: Legislation providing education savings accounts for all Texas school children.
  • Border Security:
    • Legislation to do more to reduce illegal immigration by creating a criminal offense for illegal entry into this state from a foreign nation and authorizing all licensed peace officers to remove illegal immigrants from Texas.
    • Legislation to impede illegal entry into Texas by increasing the penalties for criminal conduct involving the smuggling of persons or the operation of a stash house.
    • Legislation to impede illegal entry into Texas by providing more funding for the construction, operation, and maintenance of border barrier infrastructure.
  • Public Safety: Legislation concerning public safety, security, environmental quality, and property ownership in areas like the Colony Ridge development in Liberty County, Texas.
  • Ending COVID Restrictions: Legislation prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private employers.

The Senate has passed a measure on school choice, two on border security, and one ending COVID-19 employer vaccine mandates. 

Senate Bill 1—school choice—passed by a vote of 18-13, with State Sen. Robert Nichols (R–Jacksonville) as the lone Republican to vote against it. 

Senate Bill 4, which increases the penalties for human smuggling and operating a stash house, passed in a 29-2 vote. 

Senate Bill 11 creates a criminal penalty for improper entry from a foreign nation and passed in a vote of 19-12, with all Democrats voting against the measure.

Senate Bill 7 bans employer vaccine mandates and passed in another party-line vote of 19-12.

While the Senate worked to pass legislation, House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) banned State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) from making parliamentary inquiries from the back microphone. 

Abbott said Thursday, “Once ESAs are passed, I will put on the legislative call the full funding for public education, including teacher pay raises.”

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 2 Thursday evening, which seeks to do exactly that. It will provide a $10,000 raise for rural teachers and a $3,000 raise for urban teachers. SB 2 will also double both the per-student and per-campus school safety allotments.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in regards to SB 1, SB 4, SB 11, and SB 7, “The Texas Senate will pass this bill over and over again until the Texas House passes it and sends it to Gov. Abbott’s desk.” 

Patrick praised the Senate’s “superb work ethic” while highlighting House’s continuing failure to act, as the Senate had previously passed all of these measures during the regular legislative session.

“The Texas House, under Speaker Phelan’s leadership, never came to an agreement on any of these bills during the regular session and they all died,” said Patrick. “Now, one week into the special session, the House has not even scheduled a single hearing, let alone passed a single bill.”

“The House needs to get to work because Texans are watching,” concluded Patrick.

SB 4, SB 7, and SB 11 were referred to the House State Affairs Committee Friday morning.

SB 1 was referred to the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment. Notably, most of the members of that committee either voted against or refused to cast their vote on school choice this past regular legislative session.

The third special legislative session expires on November 7. 

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.