AUSTIN, Texas — Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan announced Tuesday he is creating a new committee in the Texas House of Representatives ahead of Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session that starts later this week.
The House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies will study issues submitted by Abbott for the special session “specifically on matters relating to the constitutional rights of Texans and the entities, activities and democratic institutions responsible for the administration and protection of those rights,” according to a press release.
The special session begins Thursday, July 8. Abbott has not announced what subjects will be discussed.
“The issues that the Legislature will be tasked with undertaking are by their very nature complex, and a select committee with expanded membership and expertise is the ideal forum for ensuring their thoughtful consideration,” Phelan said in the press release. “The members I have appointed today bring diverse viewpoints that will greatly benefit the House as these constitutional issues are debated and decided, and I thank them for their willingness to serve in this capacity.”
Rep. John Bucy III (D-Cedar Park) is the only representative from Central Texas on the committee. In an interview hours after the announcement, he said he didn't have too much information about it.
"I can only imagine that the select committee will deal with elections issues based on the description. I found out today, the same time everybody else, that I'd be on that committee," Bucy said.
Abbott said in May that the Legislature would discuss election and bail reforms bills at some point during 2021 in a special session. This came after Texas House Democrats blocked the passage of the voting bill, Senate Bill 7, by walking out of the chamber.
"Us walking out helped save those provisions from being enacted into law, and hopefully we won't see them again. So I anticipate the bill being toned down from where it was the day we left," Bucy said.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked Abbott to call a special session in May as well to discuss multiple “conservative bills,” including Senate Bill 29, which bans transgender students from playing public school sports based on their gender identity, after those bills died in the house.
The new committee has 15 members. Republican state representative Trent Ashby, who represents Lufkin, will serve as the chair. Democratic Houston Representative Senfronia Thompson will serve as vice-chair.
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