February 9, 2021
Abbott lays out his "emergency item" priorities for the 2021 legislative session, with a pandemic response at the forefront
Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities for the 2021 legislative session will focus primarily on the state’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, along with other key issues, including expansion of broadband internet, election law reform, changes to Texas’ criminal bail system, preventing local governments from defunding police, and providing protection for businesses from lawsuits related to the pandemic.

Announced last week in the governor’s biannual State of the State address, Abbott’s legislative agenda lays out “emergency items,” which lawmakers can act upon in the first 60 days of the legislative session that began Jan. 12. No other proposed legislation can receive a vote in those first 60 days.

"Hard-working Texans are at the forefront of our agenda this legislative session as we build a healthier, safer, freer and more prosperous state," Abbott said.

In the non-emergency proposals laid out by the governor, who is up for reelection in 2022, Abbott advocated for further restrictions to abortion laws, stronger protections for gun owners in government buildings, and increased education surrounding civics.

The proposals surrounding the pandemic include permanently expanding telemedicine to prevent “any government entity from shutting down religious activities in Texas.”

"I will continue working with the Legislature to find ways to navigate a pandemic while also allowing businesses to remain open,” Abbott said.

Texas Democrats largely focused their response to Abbott’s speech on the governor’s handling of the pandemic, noting that the state’s recovery has been relatively slow and inconsistent. The chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, Gilberto Hinojosa, said in a statement that Abbott “buries his head in the sand and pretends like nothing is happening,” calling Abbott the “worst governor in modern Texas history.

Abbott releases 2022-23 budget proposal as Texas faces a revenue shortfall amid a global pandemic
Amid a global pandemic and a slowdown in the oil and gas sectors, Gov. Greg Abbott has put forth a proposed 2022-23 budget that encourages state lawmakers to “take an active role in ensuring the tenets of our flourishing economy are strengthened.”

Texans enter the legislative session that began on Jan. 12 with roughly $112.5 billion for general-purpose spending over the next two years, starting with the 2022 fiscal year. The figure is slightly down from the 2020-21 budget cycle - $112.96 billion – but the estimate has improved since this summer when the pandemic hit the economy.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who’s tasked with setting the estimated budget for lawmakers each session, cautioned that the state’s economic prospects are still “clouded in uncertainty” and that his budget estimate could change over the next several months as lawmakers craft a two-year state budget.

The budget Abbott submitted to leaders in the state Senate and House focused around the pandemic and his five “emergency items,” but also around what he considers successes from last session, including public school finance, property tax reform, disaster preparedness, school safety.

But Abbott will have to deal with a slim Republican majority in the Senate as well as a roughly $1 billion deficit from the current budget that must be accounted for in the next budget. Yet, that figure doesn’t include the five-percent cuts to state agency budgets that Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and former House Speaker Dennis Bonnen ordered in the summer.

In a letter to the Legislature accompanying his proposed budget, Abbot said, “I look forward to working with all the members of the 87th Legislature to ensure that the next state budget addresses our shared priorities. I truly believe that Texas will be able to meet its needs and serve the taxpayers and residents of our state during this biennium and beyond.”

Passing a state budget is the single task the Legislature must accomplish every session. Abbott and the state’s 181 lawmakers have until May 31 to reach an agreement. 

3/19 - Outstanding Construction Awards submission deadline
3/31 - AGC-TBB Legislative Day (details TBA)

4/23 - Board Meeting (10 a.m. at Pflugerville Courtyard Marriott Conference Center)

5/31 - Legislature adjourns 87th Regular Session

6/20 - Deadline for governor to sign or veto passed legislation

7/27-7/29 - Convention at Beauport Hotel in Gloucester, MA

9/16 - Outstanding Construction Awards (6 p.m. at Georgetown Sheraton)
9/17 - Board Meeting (9 a.m. at Georgetown Sheraton)

11/12 - Board Meeting (10 a.m. at Austin AGC)
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