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Rep. James Frank
It was a long time coming, but once the House finally reached a quorum, we were able to work through most of the special session agenda relatively quickly. In total, there are 15 bills set to become law, each pertaining to the issues the Governor placed on the special session call.
We’ve talked about it before, but the marquee issue of this special session was the election integrity bill. Without rehashing all the details, this bill makes election laws consistent across the state, expands early voting hours for most counties, and increases the penalties for those who commit voter fraud. It’s a good bill that is the result of lots of negotiation and input from Texans across the state. I, along with the majority of my colleagues, voted yes, and the bill is set to become law before the 2022 midterm elections.
In other news, the Legislature passed SB 4 to shore up protections for women’s health. This bill strengthens existing reporting requirements for abortion-related complications and tightens the regulation of drug-induced abortions. Given the fertility and health risks associated with these drugs, this legislation will protect children and their mothers. Though some tried to make this a partisan issue, it was actually continuing safety regulations started during the Clinton Administration.
We also appropriated over $3 billion this session which will go towards property tax relief, securing the border, increasing rates for foster care providers, and funding Article X of the budget (ensuring that legislative staff and legislative agency staff will continue to be paid for their work).
Additionally, there are bills headed to the Governor’s desk to provide a 13th check to retired teachers, reform the bail system, improve K-12 education, address critical race theory in school classrooms, and prevent censorship on social media. We’ve included a full list of bills set to become law below.
Finally, the Governor announced yesterday that the Legislature will convene for a third special session on September 20, less than two weeks away. Redistricting will be the main priority as we work to draw state and congressional maps for the next election cycle. There are a handful of other issues on the call as well: appropriations of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, vaccine mandates by governmental entities, transgender athlete participation in UIL sports, and dog tethering restrictions.
That means that we’ve had another special session announced before we were able to get out this recap newsletter of the last special session. It’s truly been a long summer!
As always, if you have questions about specific bills that did or did not pass, please contact us and we’ll be happy to get you additional information.