As you have probably heard by now, Governor Greg Abbott has called a special session, primarily to pass a "bathroom bill." The special session is scheduled to begin on July 18, 2017, and to continue approximately one month. Here are the 20 topics that Governor Abbott has placed on the agenda for the Special session:
- "Sunset" legislation, which would keep several crucial state agencies alive
- A teacher pay raise of $1,000
- ·Giving school administrators flexibility in teacher hiring and retention
- School finance reform
- School choice for special needs students
- Rollback elections for property tax increases
- Caps on state and local spending
- Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
- Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
- Speeding up local government permitting processes
- Municipal annexation reform
- Preventing local entities from passing their own texting-while-driving bans
- Restrictions on school bathroom use for transgender students
- Prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
- Prohibiting the use of taxpayer funding to subsidize health providers that also perform abortion
- Requiring women to get separate insurance policies to cover non-emergency abortions
- Increasing existing reporting requirements when complications arise during abortions
- Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
- Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
- Extending the state's maternal mortality task force
The 85th Legislative regular session ended on May 30, 2017 with a shoving match between Matt Rinaldi (R.Irving) and various Democrats. As a parting shot, Rinaldi threatened to put a bullet in the head of one of his colleagues. Well, you don't see that every day!
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared he would call a special session if the Legislature didn't pass his "priority" bathroom bill. Governor Greg Abbott had to remind Patrick that only the governor could call a special session.
In 140-days, the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature wreaked havoc in Texas-size proportions. Here is a quick summary of some of the highlights of the session.
First, let's start with the good news:
Student Lunches: A bill sponsored by Dallas' Rep. Helen Giddings passed, requiring schools to provide a grace period once a student's lunch account is depleted.
Texting and driving: The Legislature again passed a bill, outlawing texting while driving. Former Governor Rick Perry vetoed this bill in 2011.
18 year old marriage: Believe it or not, Texas still allowed marriage of 14-year-olds with the permission of one parent. The Legislature passed a law, requiring parties to a marriage to be at least 18 years old.
Funding Rape Kits: The Legislature passed a bill sponsored by Dallas' Victoria Neave to allow voluntary funding for the testing of thousands of backlogged, untested rape kits.
Now for the bad news:
"Papers Please" Bill: Under the guise of law and order, the Legislature passed a bill that requires local law enforcement officers to ask people in Texas for proof of citizenship. Several cities, counties and advocacy groups have already sued to block the law.
Straight Party Voting: To try to stop the progress of Democrats in urban areas, the Legislature abolished straight ticket voting, effective 2020. A similar bill was held unconstitutional in Michigan.
Convention of states: The Legislature has called on Congress to convene a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution and take power away from the federal government. Thankfully, only a handful of states have joined this effort.
Reduced Local Control: The Legislature voided the Denton County vote, abolishing fracking and decided that fracking in our backyard should be controlled by the state. Likewise, the Legislature passed a law that would override ordinances in Travis County (and elsewhere) that require Uber and Lyft to comply with requirements for taxis (including background checks)
"Bathroom Bill"/LGBT rights: Legislators wasted countless hours discussing who should use which bathroom in Texas. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claimed that he was trying to protect our women, but we all know this bill was really about fearmongering and transgender citizens of Texas. The Senate version was all-encompassing, but the House version limited the restrictions to schools. In a showdown with Patrick during the last week of the regular session, Speaker of the House Joe Straus refused to appoint conferees to hash out the differences between the two bills. However, Governor Abbott yielded to Patrick, who will try, once again, to pass a bathroom bill during the special session. This bill, if passed, will be challenged, based on constitutionality.
Help Us Fight for Human Rights!
To fight against the bathroom bill and other attempts of Republican legislators to violate human rights, the Dallas County Democratic Party has partnered with the Dallas Chapter of the Human Rights Campaign to operate a joint phone bank. Join us at the Party office at 4209 Parry Avenue in Dallas, from 4:30PM to 8:30PM, on Monday, June 26th, Tuesday, June 27th and Wednesday, June 28th.
Additionally, you can help in any of the following ways: