AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the date and agenda for the second special session of the 87th Texas Legislature.
The second special session will convene at noon on Saturday, Aug. 7. The current special session ends on Friday.
"The Texas Legislature achieved a great deal during the 87th Legislative Session, and they have a responsibility to finish the work that was started," Abbott said. "I will continue to call special session after special session to reform our broken bail system, uphold election integrity, and pass other important items that Texans demand and deserve. Passing these Special Session agenda items will chart a course towards a stronger and brighter future for the Lone Star State."
The agenda for the second special session includes these 17 items, as stated verbatim in a release from the governor's office:
- Legislation reforming the bail system in Texas to protect the public from accused criminals who may be released on bail
- Legislation strengthening the integrity of elections in Texas
- Legislation providing appropriations from unappropriated available revenues for COVID-19-related healthcare expenses, such as those listed below, taking into consideration the approximately $10.5 billion in funds received by local governments intended to be used on COVID-19 from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021(ARPA), Pub. L. No. 117-2:
- healthcare staffing needs, including physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals; establishing, staffing, and operating alternative care sites; supporting the operations of nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities; vaccine administration; testing sites; supplies and equipment, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators; and standing up and operating infusion centers
- Legislation providing strategies for public-school education in prekindergarten through twelfth grade during the COVID-19 pandemic, which ensures:
- students receive a high-quality education and progress in their learning;
in-person learning is available for any student whose parent wants it; the wearing of face coverings is not mandatory; and COVID-19 vaccinations are always voluntary
- students receive a high-quality education and progress in their learning;
- Legislation enhancing criminal laws or providing funding from unappropriated available revenues to support law-enforcement agencies, counties, and other strategies as part of Texas’ comprehensive border security plan
- Legislation safeguarding the freedom of speech by protecting social-media and email users from being censored based on the user’s expressed viewpoints, including by providing a legal remedy for those wrongfully excluded from a platform
- Legislation providing appropriations from unappropriated available revenues to the Legislature and legislative agencies in Article X of the General Appropriations Act
- Legislation similar to Senate Bill 1109 from the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, requiring schools to provide appropriate education to middle- and high-school students about dating violence, domestic violence, and child abuse, but that recognizes the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction
- Legislation identical to Senate Bill 29 as passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, disallowing a student from competing in University Interscholastic League athletic competitions designated for the sex opposite to the student’s sex at birth
- Legislation similar to Senate Bill 394 from the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, which prohibits people from providing abortion-inducing drugs by mail or delivery service, strengthens the laws applicable to the reporting of abortions and abortion complications, and ensures that no abortion-inducing drugs arc provided unless there is voluntary and informed consent
- Legislation similar to House Bill 3507 from the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, relating to a “thirteenth check” or one-time supplemental payment of benefits under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas
- Legislation similar to House Bill 3979 concerning critical race theory as originally passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular Session
- Legislation providing appropriations from unappropriated available revenues for the following purposes:
- property-tax relief; enhanced protection for the safety of children in Texas’ foster-care system by attracting and retaining private providers for the system; and to better safeguard the state from potential cybersecurity threats
- Legislation modifying the filing periods and related election dates, including any runoffs, for primary elections held in Texas in 2022
- Legislation reforming the laws governing radioactive waste to protect the safety of Texans, including by further limiting the ability to store and transport high-level radioactive materials in this state
- Legislation shielding private employers and employees from political subdivision rules, regulations, ordinances, and other actions that require any terms of employment that exceed or conflict with federal or state law relating to any form of employment leave, hiring practices, employment benefits, or scheduling practices
- Legislation relating to legislative quorum requirements
The agenda for the second special session includes 11 of the same topics as the agenda the governor issued for the first special session, plus six additional topics.
The final item listed on the agenda, "legislation related to legislative quorum requirements," is particularly notable given the events of the first special session. The majority of Texas House Democrats left Austin for Washington, D.C., on July 12 to break quorum during the special session due to a controversial election reform bill.
Dozens of Democrats remain in the nation's capital as of Thursday, Aug. 5.
"We'll keep all tools in the toolbox available to us. If he [Abbott] continues to push voter suppression, then we'll have to consider that as we debate what our next action will be," Rep. John Bucy (D-Cedar Park) said. "What we care about is protecting voting rights. It is foundational. That's why we chose to break quorum over it. We've lost a lot of fights as Democrats in the Texas Legislature, and we fight hard on the floor and we fight passionately."
House Republicans consider the delay caused by the Democrats' departure from the state an inconvenience and hope their colleagues return to work.
"We want them to come and do the job they were elected to do, and some of their colleagues have. And we're hoping that more of them will do so. And that's just the reason we're elected, is to serve the people," said Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston), chairman of the Texas House Republican Caucus. "It's unfortunate the Democratic walkout, flyout, on private planes for their vacation has caused this. But that shouldn't take away from the importance of the work we do. This is critically important work."
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released the following statement after Abbott's announcement:
“I want to thank Gov. Abbott for calling the legislature back for a second special session. The work we will complete is critical to Texans. All of the bills on this special session call were passed by the Texas Senate during the regular legislative session this spring, but did not pass the House.
“During the first special session in July, the Texas Senate maintained a quorum and quickly passed every bill listed on Gov. Abbott’s call. Unfortunately, a quorum was not maintained in the Texas House of Representatives and all of the bills died.
“With Gov. Abbott promptly calling us back for another special session, I want Texans to know the Texas Senate stands ready to begin our important work, immediately. We will have a quorum, and we will begin committee hearings this weekend. Bills will be heard on the Senate floor beginning next week. I look forward to a productive special session for the people of Texas.”
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