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Special legislative session to start July 8

Texas State Capitol Building

Gov. Greg Abbott called a special legislative session to begin July 8, just over a month after the end of the 87th Texas Legislature’s regular session.

Abbott made the announcement Tuesday, June 22, but did not release an agenda. The only issues that can be considered during a special session are those determined by the governor when the session is called. 

Though the governor did not outline specific session topics, legislators most likely will be directed to consider bills on bail reform and elections. During the regular session, Abbott listed these topics among his priorities, but neither were passed by session’s end on May 31. 

Texas House Democrats walked out of the session prior to a vote on an elections bill they opposed. By doing so, they denied the House a quorum, and the rest of the body couldn’t take up the bill. 

Abbott has since carried through on a threat to cut funding for the legislative body because of the walkout. The veto doesn’t affect the July 8 special session. Abbott’s actions impact the 2021-23 state budget. 

Critics pointed out that his actions go much further than affecting the legislators themselves, who earn $600 a month along with an additional $221 stipend when the Legislature is in session, which is every two years. Also affected are legislative staff, who play critical roles in assisting elected leaders and their constituents. 

The cut also hits the Legislative Budget Board, which analyzes budgets and policies and evaluates and reviews state operations to find more efficient ways to conduct business.

It also will cut the budget for the Legislative Council, a nonpartisan legislative agency that provides research and information. Its staff prints, processes, and distributes a number of legislative documents and plays a role in helping the Legislature during redistricting. 

The state auditor’s budget was cut in the veto as well. The auditor’s office helps improve government accountability and investigates reports of illegal actions or improprieties by any organization or agency receiving state funding. 

Another special session will be held in the fall for redistricting. That session can’t begin until the U.S. Census Bureau releases specific numbers that state legislators will use to redraw U.S. Congressional districts and state House and Senate lines. Texas population growth merited the state two additional congressional seats.

daniel@thepicayune.com