Texas lawmakers from San Antonio area reflect on legislative session and next steps

The regular session has ended, but Greg Abbott announced an immediate special session

SAN ANTONIO – This legislative session has been unique to say the least.

From the start of the impeachment proceedings for Attorney General Ken Paxton to the various bills that have a direct impact on Texas’ schools, mental health programs and wallets, there has been a lot to digest.

And even though the session has ended, two local state-level lawmakers say it is far from over.

“No. Session is not over,” Sen. José Menéndez, D-26, said.

“There’s some unfinished business, and I’m almost confident the governor is going to be calling us back,” District 118 Rep. John Lujan added.

This legislative session started on Jan. 10 and it technically ended on Monday, but there is unfinished business when it comes to property taxes. On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced an immediate special session to address property taxes and border security.

“I believe that the Senate’s version is the best version for homeowners. Increasing the homestead exemptions to $100,000 from the current 40 would mean that if you owned a home, it was appraised at, let’s say, $125,000, or $150,000, then you would only pay on the $25,000 or the 50,” Menendez said.

And of course, there are big questions when it comes to the border.

“... Definitely, we’ve got to shore up the border and we have some pretty good initiatives there that I was hoping that we would get done and we just didn’t. And so we’re going to be definitely going back,” Lujan said.

Both these lawmakers reflected on the last few months in Austin and what could have been.

“I’m disappointed that we did nothing to increase school funding. We had an opportunity, a historic budget surplus, $33 billion. And we did nothing,” Menendez said.

Lujan also spoke about what unfolded around Paxton.

“We had to have a member that we had to get rid of. We did have, you know, the attorney general thing, which was very controversial and weighed heavy on my heart. And it was just difficult for me but needed. You know, I did what I felt needed to be done,” Lujan said.

But both lawmakers saying regardless of this unique session — the drama, the headlines and the debates — there is legislation that will help Texans.

“There’s some mental health funding that occurred that improved. I think, you know, increasing the maternal care from Medicare patients to 12 months and six months without having them jump through hoops. That’s going to help a lot of families,” Menendez said.

“Randolph Air Force Base sits in my district. So being able to meet with them and carry some legislation that got to the governor’s desk, and we already have one signed by the governor, which was a transportation one for military bases,” Lujan said. “It’s going to provide jobs for Texans, must get work done at the at the bases that need to be done through TxDOT.”

But for now, we wait for Friday to see what happens next.

“We’ll be back, obviously, in session as the Senate. We’re going to have to huddle up and discuss what our options are. I’m hopeful that the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the speaker will be talking,” Menendez said.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.