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.