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07 June 2017, 10:44 | Cynthia Sparks
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Governor Greg Abbott today announced a legislative special session that will begin on July 18. A commission to study education funding reform, plus a school choice voucher program for families with special needs kids.
It's a lot to do with little time to do it Special Sessions can only last 30 days.
Among the other issues Abbott said he would ask lawmakers to address: approving a $1,000 pay raise for public school teachers, prohibiting local ordinances that restrict homeowners and businesses, cutting off local money to abortion providers, restricting cities' ability to annex property and studying the causes of maternal deaths in Texas. Throughout the legislative session, far-right lawmakers have considered anti-LGBTQ legislation including bills that would make it illegal for transgender people to access facilities consistent with their gender identity.
"Texans need property tax reform right now", Abbott said. "I'm not in favor of the bathroom bill, and I don't believe my constituents are".
Gov. Abbott, dissatisfied with the law as now written, said he wants the measure to override city ordinances so there isn't a "patchwork quilt" of distracted driving laws across the state. It ended Memorial Day with Republican leaders feuding over the failure of the original proposal and - in another sign of raw tensions in the Texas Capitol - a skirmish between lawmakers over a "sanctuary cities" crackdown. Lawmakers say the law is needed to slow local tax increases. Inexplicably, among 18 other measures, Gov. Abbott also announced he would be including on the agenda for the special session reconsideration of misguided legislation driven by baseless fearmongering about transgender schoolchildren simply using the bathroom that matches who they are. He was quickly congratulated by Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chaired President Donald Trump's campaign in Texas a year ago, and pushed North Carolina-style bathroom restrictions to the forefront last session.
Senate Bill 8 bans the most common second-trimester abortion procedure and requires health care facilities such as hospitals and abortion clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains - whether from abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth. However, Abbott warned during his announcement that the bill he signed "did not fully achieve my goals" and called for "legislation that fully pre-empts cities and counties from any regulation of mobile devices in vehicles" during the special session. "Too many of our great teachers are underpaid", he said.
"A special session was entirely avoidable", Abbott said. Casar also questioned why the governor did not include on his list a call to look at redistricting, despite the legal limbo Texas' current maps remain in. Nearly every issue he addressed today passed the Senate during the regular session and I am confident the senators are ready to hit the ground running to move these issues forward.
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