Gov. Greg Abbott Calls Special Session Beginning July 18
AUSTIN, Texas -- It's official: lawmakers will be coming back to the Capitol for a special session this July.
After rumors swirled for weeks, Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to announce the overtime call. But what many didn't expect was how long the list of items to accomplish would be.
"I intend to make it count," Governor Abbott said.
During the 30 days lawmakers are scheduled to be in Austin, the Governor is hoping they'll tackle 20 items.
However, Abbott said one needs to be addressed by lawmakers first: sunset legislation. That bill is needed to keep five state agencies running, including the Texas Medical Board, which licenses doctors in the state.
The Governor made it clear this was his main reason for calling legislators back.
"Because of their inability, or their refusal, to pass a simple law that would prevent the medical profession from shutting down," Abbott said.
Governor Abbott said only after lawmakers pass that so-called sunset bill will they be able to discuss the 19 other items, a wide-ranging list which includes property tax reform and bathroom legislation. Two items that also happened to be Lt. Governor Dan Patrick's priorities.
The Lt. Governor applauded the Governor's special session call, saying it was "big and bold." But LGBT rights advocates aren't as pleased with the inclusion of bathroom regulation.
"For any state to want to voluntarily go down this road does not make any sense whatsoever," said Equality Texas CEO Chuck Smith.
Abbott also added education issues to the call, including school finance reform, teacher pay raises, and a controversial voucher proposal for special needs students.
While House Speaker Joe Straus has been against lawmakers coming back for a special session, Straus appeared to approve of further school finance reform efforts.
"The House looks forward to resuming our work on school finance and other challenges facing this state," Straus said in a statement.
However, some public education advocates are wary.
Mark Wiggins, a lobbyist with the Texas Association of Professional Educators, called the Governor's education initiatives a "grab-bag of bad public education bills."
Regardless, Governor Abbott didn't mince words when demanding lawmakers accomplish his long overtime list.
Legislation for the special session: