Gov. Abbott calls for July special session, adds 20 possible items to list

If first item passes, then 19 other items will be added

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

AUSTIN - The Texas Legislature will officially head into a special session next month with a list of 20 items, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday afternoon.

The lawmakers will be covering a lot of ground if one specific piece of legislation passes first. It's called the sunset legislation, a process where lawmakers review state agencies and decide which ones stay open.

Legislators didn't make those decisions in time during the regular session, so right now, it is the only legislation listed for the special session.

Abbott said once that passes the state Senate, he'll then add 19 other items to the list.

The governor addressed reporters Tuesday afternoon with a tone of disappointment. 

"We should not be where we are today. A special session was entirely avoidable. There was plenty of time for the House and Senate to forge compromises to avoid the time and the taxpayer expense of a special session," he said. 

Still, Abbott called for the special session, which will begin July 18, mainly to pass sunset legislation.

"To keep state agencies like the Texas Medical Board functioning and operating. Without this legislation, Texas would be unable to license new doctors or to regulate the practice of medicine," Abbott said.

One of 20 items set to be added is the controversial bathroom bill, which some San Antonio city leaders are calling discriminatory and say it could hurt the city's tourism industry.

"A single statewide rule protecting the privacy of women and children," Abbott said in his speech.

A lot of the items have to do with education.

"Too many of our great teachers are underpaid. Too many potential teachers work elsewhere because teacher pay is too low," he said.

Legislators will vote to increase teacher pay by $1,000 dollars, supplemented by Abbott's proposed overhaul of the Texas school finance system.

"The pay increases can easily be achieved by passing laws that reprioritize how schools spend money and we can do that without taxpayers spending a penny more," he said.

Smarter spending was Abbott's same reasoning for listing several items related to property taxes. 

"I'm calling on the legislature to pass SB 2 with the rate rollback provision or pass a better law, a better law that will reform the spiraling property taxes in Texas," Abbott said. 

He also called for limiting state and local government spending, prohibiting local governments from over-regulating, and restricting Texas cities' annexation abilities.

"Cities that annex property without the vote of those affected is piracy by government," he said. 

The annexation restriction bill was sponsored by Sen. Donna Campbell and stopped by Sen. Jose Menendez.

Special sessions typically last 30 days but can go far longer and come at the expense of the taxpayers.

Abbott's speech touched on all 20 special session items, including sunset legislation, which are all listed below:

1. Sunset legislation

2. Teacher pay increase of $1,000        

3. Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices 

4. School finance reform commission

5. School choice for special needs students

6. Property tax reform 

7. Caps on state and local spending

8. Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land 

9. Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects

10. Speeding up local government permitting process

11. Municipal annexation reform

12. Texting while driving preemption

13. Privacy

14. Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues

15. Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers

16. Pro-life insurance reform

17. Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise

18. Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders

19. Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud

20.  Extending maternal mortality task force

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