Texas Legislature back in session

Leslie Sarinana , Copy Editor

Nearly a month after the 85th Texas Legislative Session ended, Governor Greg Abbott has called for a special session. The second session is set to begin on July 18, and last up to 30 days.

This comes to almost no surprise as lawmakers failed to approve a bill that would have prevented the shutdown of critical state agencies. This failure has caused Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to push for a special session to revisit the bill. He says the House didn’t complete its sunset review process in time. “Sunset” is a review process where lawmakers periodically review state agencies and decide to either phase them out or keep them open.

If the sunset bill review does not go through, state agencies would have to close. One of the agencies facing closure is the Texas Medical Board, which licenses all doctors in Texas.

The Texas Legislative Sessions take place every two years and run 140 days long. This year it wrapped up with a lot of loose ends. During the last day of the session, the House saw a lot of opposition and massive protests over Senate Bill 4, known as the “anti-sanctuary cities bill,” which allows law enforcement to ask an individual’s immigration status. This also caused argument between state representatives. The law was signed by Abbott with no advance notice Sunday night before the session concluded. Hundreds of protesters had to be escorted out of the House gallery after they disrupted the lower chamber’s proceedings.

High tensions and anger got in the way of completing the agenda on the last day of the session. Democrats and Republics even went as far as to start shoving each other. These disputes left a lot of issues unresolved and only increased the need for a special session.

After it came to an end, Abbott vetoed 50 bills passed during the legislative session. However, Texas legislators have the power to override the vetoes during the special session.

Key issues that are going the be brought up include abortion, the “bathroom bill” and property tax growth. The special session, which could run as long as 30 days, is estimated to cost taxpayers up to $800,000.

Here are two of the bills sure to be brought up during the special sessions:

HB 3859:

House Bill 3859 is the latest bill signed into law by Abbott and is sure to come up during the special session. This bill has made it legal for child welfare organization to deny welfare to qualified Texans based on their sexuality, gender identity or on the basis of the sexuality or gender identity of someone in their family if the provider cites religious beliefs as a reason to deny them. Organizations will be able to do the same for same-sex couples who wish to adopt or even a couple from which one partner has been previously divorced as it can be considered a violation of the organization’s religious beliefs. HB 3859 is set to go into effect in September.

SB 8:

Senate Bill 8 passed back in March during the legislative session. It is sure to be revisited during the special session as Abbott highlighted abortion as one of the key issues. This bill bans partial-birth abortions and restricts fetal tissue donations. Dilation and evacuation (D&E) is also made illegal through this bill. Doctors have concluded that D&E is the safest and most common type of abortions performed in the first trimester. Additionally, SB 8 bans the donation of fetal remains for medical research and requires that all remains during an abortion be buried or cremated. While it is unknown how the bill will be changed during the special session, all signs point to more restrictions on abortion.