Gov. Greg Abbott adds property tax relief, bail to special session agenda

The Texas Capitol on Aug. 13, 2021.

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Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday added property tax relief and a constitutional amendment addressing bail changes to the third special session of the year.

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"These two additional agenda items are crucial to improving the quality of life for all Texans," Abbott said in a statement. "I look forward to working with my partners in the Legislature to pass these additional items that will lower property taxes and keep Texans safe."

Abbott's new priorities come as the Legislature is already set to grapple with redrawing the state's political maps for the next 10 years, regulating what teams transgender student athletes can play on and dictating whether COVID-19 vaccines should be mandated. Lawmakers will also determine how to spend $16 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds and whether to pass a bill that would protect dogs from being tethered without adequate shelter and space — a bill Abbott vetoed earlier this year.

Abbott has faced pressure from his right to further emphasize the need for property tax relief. One of his Republican challengers in next year's primary for governor, Don Huffines, a former state senator, slammed Abbott for not originally adding property tax relief to the special session call. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made it his top priority for the session, even though the governor is the only one who can select the items lawmakers can work on during special sessions.

Bail resolutions to amend the Texas Constitution have failed in previous sessions this year, as the measures require approval from two-thirds of both chambers before they can get on a ballot to be decided by Texas voters. In previous sessions, the proposals would allow courts to deny any type of bail for defendants accused of violent or sexual crimes.

In Texas, almost everyone who is arrested has a constitutional right to be released on bail, though cash amounts can be set very high. The current exceptions in which judges can deny bail are for capital murder defendants or people accused of certain repeat felonies or bail violations.

Jolie McCullough contributed to this report.

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