AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott said a special session will start at 1 p.m., Oct. 9, according to a letter sent to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan.
Abbott told Christian faith leaders in a tele-town hall on Sept. 12 that he intended to call another special session this year. The upcoming special session will be the third of the year and is set to begin in October.
What’s to come in the third special session?
One of the main items on the agenda Abbott plans to push for is school choice: where public education funds would be able to benefit private schools, not just public schools.
“There’s an easy way to get it done and a hard way to get it done,” Gov. Abbott said at the tele-town hall. “The easy way will be for these legislators to come into the regular session, this next special session, and vote in favor of school choice.”
In Texas, one special session is limited to a maximum of 30 days.
What happened to lead up to this special session?
The Texas Legislature met for its 88th regular session from January to May earlier this year. Some of the notable bills that were subject to become law included:
- Cost-of-living adjustment to the Texas Teacher Retirement System (SB 10)
- Ban sexually explicit or suggestive performances while minors are present (SB 12)
- Ban on Transgender Athletes (SB 15)
- Ban on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion offices at public universities (SB 17)
- Changes to tenure in higher education (SB 18)
- Murder charges can be brought for fentanyl poisoning (HB 6)
- Process for the state to remove “rogue” district attorneys (HB 17)
- Closing the “Dead Suspect Loophole” (HB 30)
Some notable bills that failed in the 88th regular session include:
- Created a ‘Texas Border Force’ (HB 7)
- Given a raise to state employees and retirees (HB 136)
- Reduced penalties for low-level marijuana possession (HB 218)
- Banned teaching sexual orientation or gender identity in schools (HB 890)
- Increased the legal age to buy assault rifles to 21 (HB 2744)
- Amended the Texas Constitution to allow wagering on sports (HJR 102)
- Limited what customers spend on electric “performance credits” (SB 7)
- Required public school classrooms to display the 10 commandments (SB 1515)
- Provided property tax relief (SB 3)
Three hours after the end of the 88th regular session, Abbott immediately called a special session to address property tax and border security.
However, no bills made it to Gov. Abbott’s desk by the end of the first special session. The lack of progress had to do with the division between the Texas House and Senate.
On the first day of the first special session, the House passed Abbott’s preferred property tax and border security bills — the other and less talked about item on the session’s agenda — leaving the Senate with only two options: take it or leave it.
In the following 30 days, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stood firmly on the Senate’s promise to Texans to raise the homestead exemption — the amount of a home’s value that taxpayers can write-off from their tax bill.
With no progress made, Abbott called a second special session around the end of June, this time to focus solely on property tax relief. An agreement on property tax relief bills SB 2 and SB 3 made it to Abbott desk and signed into law successfully in late July.
The property tax relief bills signed by Abbott was a $18 billion tax cut for Texas property owners. In order for the legislation to go into effect, Texas voters will have to vote for it in a constitutional election on Nov. 7. If approved, the changes will apply for the 2023 tax bills due in January.