Capitol Update

16 June 2017

Capitol Update: Special Session Basics

If you’ve been keeping up with what’s going on in Austin, you’ve probably heard that my fellow legislators and I have been called back for a special session on July 18th. It’s been over five years since our last special session, so I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a brief refresher on what it means for the Texas Legislature to be called back for a Special Session and what we’ll address this time around. . .

Special Session Basics

A special session is essentially legislative “overtime” where lawmakers are called back to Austin, for no more than 30 days, to take up an agenda set forth by the Governor. If, after the 30 days of the first special session, the Governor is not satisfied with the work of the Legislature, he may call another special session to try again, and may continue doing so until he is satisfied. On the other hand, if the Legislature accomplishes the Governor’s agenda prior to the 30 day mark, we may adjourn earlier.

During a regular legislative session, lawmakers can consider bills on any topic. In a special session, however, the Legislature may consider only those bills that relate to the Governor’s agenda. Similar to a regular session, bills will be assigned to a committee, where they will be debated and left open for public testimony. House bills voted out of their respective committee will go to the Calendars committee before they can come to the floor for a vote, and the same rules apply to get a bill placed on the Senate’s intent calendar.

 

Special Session Legislation  

This year’s special session has an ambitious 20-item agenda — ranging from cracking down on mail in ballot fraud to privacy protection and property tax reform. However, the only must pass item on the list is passage of sunset legislation to ensure the continuation of several state entities, including the Texas Medical Board which has purview over our state’s physicians. Without the passage of this bill these agencies would have to shut down as we begin the next fiscal year.  While Governor Abbott has made it clear to legislators his priorities for this overtime session, please bear in mind he can always add additional items to the current agenda.

Although many issues on the Special Session agenda were debated in the regular session of the 85th Legislature, the majority of them did not make it to the Governor’s desk because of differing opinions between the House and Senate or time simply running out.  I remain optimistic that my colleagues in both chambers will head back to Austin ready to work together so that we may finish our business in a timely fashion and then return home to our districts.

 

Reminders

The mobile office is back on the road in June and looks forward to seeing you around the district! Here’s this month’s remaining schedule: June 21st from 9am-11am at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett or from 1:30pm-3:30pm at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton. You can also come see us at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine on June 28th from 9am-11am.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office can be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.

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