After nearly 10 months of being in Austin for session (through May) and 3 different 30-day special sessions, I am thrilled to finally be back home. The 3rd–and hopefully final–special session ended a little after 1am Tuesday morning. After dealing with topics like election integrity and a 13th check for retired teachers in the previous special session, Governor Abbott put ten items on the call for this third special session:
- Appropriating federal relief and recovery funds,
- Prohibition on COVID vaccine mandates from government entities,
- Transgender athlete participation in UIL sports,
- Dog tethering,
- Property tax relief (added with 28 days remaining in the special),
- Bail reform constitutional amendment (added with 28 days remaining in the special),
- Increases in penalties for illegally voting (added with 20 days remaining in the special),
- Prohibition on COVID vaccine mandates from all entities (added with 8 days remaining in the special),
- Higher education improvements (added with 4 days remaining in the special)
As a reminder, when we are in a special session, we cannot pass bills that are not on the Governor’s agenda.
The biggest and absolute MUST-PASS item was redistricting and we were able to pass all of the necessary maps on time. Every ten years, the Texas Legislature is tasked with drawing the districts for the Texas House, Texas Senate, State Board of Education, and Texas’ Congressional seats. Our state’s growth over the past ten years resulted in Texas gaining two seats in the US House of Representatives, which means two additional congressional districts had to be drawn into the state.
Closer to home, our Texas House district (HD-69) needed to grow by about 30,000 people. To gain that population, the district is growing from 6 counties (Archer, Baylor, Clay, Foard, Knox, and Wichita) to 14 counties (by adding Cottle, Fisher, Hardeman, Haskell, King, Motley, Stonewall, and Wilbarger).
Of those 9 items listed above, there were a couple of topics that did not make it across the finish line. The most notable issue that did not make it to the Governor’s desk was the prohibition on COVID vaccine mandates. I supported legislation that would have protected individuals from mandated vaccination by either the government or business owners, but in the end the votes were not there to get something passed out of either the House or Senate. The Governor did issue an executive order that accomplishes the same thing and that is effectively law until his emergency declaration on COVID expires.
Below, we have provided a brief breakdown of each of the bills passed this special session. If you have any questions about what passed (or did not pass) over the past ten months, please reach out to me or my office.