SPECIAL SESSION 1
As previously reported, in June, Governor Greg Abbott announced his intentions to call the legislature back into Special Session. This morning, at 10:00 a.m., both chambers gaveled and got the Special Session underway. This will be interesting to watch as the only thing that both chambers of the legislature and the Governor seem to agree on is that sunset legislation – legislation needed to extend the existence of the Texas Medical Board, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, and the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners – must pass. Beyond that, the gamesmanship has already begun, with the Speaker and Lt. Governor trading shots at each other and the Governor announcing that he will be keeping “a list” of any member that does not support or refuses to take a position on any of his action items.
Pursuant to Governor Abbott’s announcement, legislators will take up as their first pressing matter, legislation that extends the operations of state agencies; otherwise those agencies would have one-year to wind down their functions. After such legislation — SB 20 by V. Taylor/HB 1 by L. Gonzales — is passed, it is widely expected that Abbott will open up the session to the other 19 items on his agenda.
Capitol observers are certain to watch closely over the course of the coming weeks to see what impact the ongoing acrimony between Lt. Governor Patrick and House Speaker Straus will have on Governor Abbott’s huge Special Session wish list that contains some contentious issues that failed to pass during the regular session. Historically, the key factors in shaping a Special Session are the compressed timelines and limited agenda for issues that did not pass, which tend to intensify the politics.