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Gov. Abbott’s special session adjourns half completed

Inside the Texas State Capitol
Photo by Shayan Faradineh

Gov. Greg Abbott’s Special Legislative Session ended Aug. 15 with 11 measures passed on his 20-item agenda.

Abbott called lawmakers back for the special session on July 18. Legislators had 30 days to pass the “sunset legislation” and other priorities laid out by the governor.

Sunset legislation refers to bills that financially support government agencies under the jurisdiction of The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission.

After lawmakers passed the bill, Abbott laid out 20 signature items to address this session and selected members of both chambers to introduce specific legislation on each topic.

The measures signed by the governor include teacher’s salary, school finance, school choice for special needs children and abortion legislation effecting insurance and reporting.

The Senate hosted committee hearings and logged full days on the senate floor aiming to complete the agenda. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, president of the Senate, acknowledged the endurance of his chamber.

“In the past week, they have logged almost 57 hours in committee hearings and over 33 hours on the Senate Floor to pass 18 bills on the Special Session call,” Patrick said, calling the second week a “milestone.”

The House did not vote on as many bills as the Senate, but still managed to work with the other chamber to get agenda items to the governor’s desk.

Abbott’s number one priority, property taxes and controversial issues such as the bathroom bill, did not get passed in the 30-day window.

The Texas Legislature closed out the special session Aug 15.

“Our office believes this special session has produced a far better Texas than before,” said John Wittman, Abbott’s spokesman.

Although the office of the governor accepted the fact the full agenda did not pass, Patrick criticized the Speaker of the House, Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, for items such as the “bathroom bill” and education policies that weren’t addressed in the house.

“We missed some major opportunities, but what I’m most upset about is the House quit tonight,” Patrick said.

Straus released his own statement celebrating the work of his chamber.

“I’m proud of our House Members who worked diligently in the special session, passing legislation that was in the best interest of all Texans,” Straus said in a statement. “The House was thoughtful, respectful and decisive in its solution-oriented approach.”

The governor has yet to mention whether he would call another special session to address the remaining nine items. If a special session is not called, lawmakers will return to Austin, Jan. 2019, for the 86th Legislative Session.


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