SAN ANTONIO – The final gavel has sounded on the 87th Texas Legislature, marking both the end to an eventful session and the beginning for numerous laws set to be enacted across the Lone Star State.
The session culminated in a dramatic walkout by Democrats to avoid the passing of a voting bill.
On Sunday, Texas State Senators Donna Campbell and Roland Gutierrez, joined Leading SA to share their perspectives on the session and what comes next.
“We most certainly started with a different session, more masks, testing, social distancing, and plexiglass everywhere and we were met by the winter storm,” Campbell said.
According to Campbell, for the most part, the session was successful.
“We did pass bills that will help winterize generation generators. So, should this happen again, we’ve got that covered. We change the makeup of the PUC in their court board. We securitize the electric market and stabilize both the grid and the market, making access for the electric providers to cheaper loans. And that helps all of us. We expanded broadband access, protected the elderly so that should another state of emergency occur, families can still see their loved ones. We passed a conservative balanced budget to still maintain funding for schools and even expanded Medicaid for postpartum women,” Campbell said.
However, Campbell said the session was not perfect and pointed to a few bills that did not pass the House.
“I was disappointed that we did have some bills passed the Senate, but not the House, and that was election integrity, bail bond reform, and the Small Business Protection Act,” Campbell said.
On the other side of the aisle, Gutierrez said the session posed various challenges because of the Republican power — pointing specifically at the voting bill.
“Senate Bill 7 was nothing more than an attack on the measures that happened in Houston, which were essentially voter expansion. What’s wrong with it? And giving more opportunity for people to vote extra hours on Sunday?” Gutierrez said. “It wasn’t anything more than eliminating our ability to get more people out. And so, I hope the people are listening and I hope they understand what’s happening in Austin. It is devastating coming from the Republican side for sure.”
Campbell said the issues presented and passed in the session were not new and pointed to issues affecting the country and state.
“Conservative issues have never changed. We passed legislation this session that broadened police reform, expanded your ability to defend yourself, protect religious liberty, protect the sanctity of life. And that’s always been our values,” Campbell said. “This session, we honored those rights -- the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Guttierez said lawmakers are waiting for the possibility of a special session following the fallout of the walkout over the voting bill.
“There were other bills that they wanted to get done that didn’t get done,” Gutierrez said. “And so I’m sure that we’re going to be facing a special session with some pretty red meat issues, including Senate Bill 7, which was the elections bill.”
You can watch the full Leading SA interview in the video player above.