June 7, 2017
Abbott’s 20-Item Special Session on July 18; Patrick Up, Straus Down; Privacy Act is
Thought you might find this of interest fellow Texans! Simply scroll down to the section entitled “Top News” and start reading from there—all very interesting.
> Post-session 20-day deadline for Governor to sign or veto: June 18, 2017
> Beginning of Special Session: July 18, 2017
> End of Special Session: August 16, 2017
SPECIAL SESSION CALLED:
— “Gov. Greg Abbott has called a special session that will begin July 18. He outlined an agenda chock-a-block with red meat conservative issues, including a “bathroom ban” and restrictions on property tax growth and abortion.
The announcement was a major win for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the conservative firebrand who leads the Senate and has been pressuring Abbott to call a special legislative session. Patrick’s top priorities during the regular legislative session that ended Memorial Day included restricting bathroom access for transgender Texans and limiting local property tax growth. … Abbott criticized lawmakers for failing to finish their business and said they have six weeks to prepare for the special session, which can last up to 30 days. …
Abbott said once the Senate approves a measure to reauthorize agencies that are scheduled to shutter, he will immediately add to the special session agenda 19 items championed by Republican lawmakers, including Patrick’s top priorities. … Among the other issues Abbott said he would ask lawmakers to address: approving a $1,000 pay raise for public school teachers, prohibiting local ordinances that restrict homeowners and businesses, cutting off local money to abortion providers, restricting cities’ ability to annex property and studying the causes of maternal deaths in Texas.”
Dallas Morning News –MACKOWIAK ANALYSIS:
Gov. Abbott is back and he has a message: ‘I’m in charge’.
He surprised many legislators with the length of this special session call. Obviously, it will be challenging to address this many issues in 30 days, but they have six weeks until the Special Session starts to “pre-conference” these bills and the more they get done now, the more productive the Special Session will be (and the less necessary another Special Session will be). This special session call is a clear win for Dan Patrick, and a clear loss for Speaker Straus. Straus does get the Sunset bill done in the Senate early, per Gov. Abbott’s direction, and School Finance was added. But most of the rest of the agenda had problems in the House. These issues will be used in primaries next year. Conservatives were thrilled with Abbott’s list and are now hopeful much of it can be accomplished. Will the House slow down again in the Special? What will they agree to let through?
“A governor taking back the spotlight”: Ross Ramsey writes in his regular
Texas Tribune column
— “Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for a special July-August session gives you a clue — through the timing and the subject matter — as to what problem he hopes to solve. He wants to erase the notion — a popular idea in the Texas Capitol — that he’s not in charge. … Abbott’s focus is first on the thing that must be done; then and only then, he said, can lawmakers work on an astonishing, almost ridiculous (given the allotted time) avalanche of issues — including Patrick’s, somewhere in the pile — that he’s willing to add to the agenda.”
Gov. Abbott’s agenda for the 30-day session, per Ross Ramsey:
•Teacher pay increase of $1,000
•Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
•School finance reform commission
•School choice for special needs students
•Property tax reform
•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 process
•Municipal annexation reform
•Texting while driving preemption
•Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
•Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
•Pro-life insurance reform
•Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
•Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
•Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
•Extending maternal mortality task force
–THE OPPOSITION: “Austin mayor says Abbott’s call for special session is ‘a war on cities’,”
The Austin American-Statesman’s Phillip Jankowski
— ““I admit to being a little dumbfounded when I heard what sounded to me like a call for a war against cities; a fight against individual liberties exposed at the ballot box,” [Austin Mayor Steve] Adler s aid. “Instead of looking at a future … the governor’s special call looks to the past.” …
“The air in Austin is pretty sweet with an unemployment rate that is a point lower than the state, a lower violent crime rate than the state, with the highest rates of patents and venture capital in the state,” Adler said. “And the air is sweet with tacos.””
Austin American-Statesman -THE REACTION:
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick:
“I want to congratulate Governor Abbott for his big and bold special session agenda which solidly reflects the priorities of the people of Texas. Almost every issue he addressed today passed the Senate during the regular session and I am confident the senators are ready to hit the ground running to move these issues forward. The people of Texas have a right to expect that we will finish the job on these critical issues and I am happy to join with the governor in doing the work they elected us to do. I continue to be proud to serve with Gov. Abbott and look forward to working with him in the upcoming special session.”
Speaker Joe Straus
: “I hope that Members will take advantage of the next six weeks to spend with their families after a long 140-day legislative session. The Members of the House will return to the Capitol next month ready to put their constituents and the best interest of the state first. The House looks forwrad to resuming our work on school finance and other challenges facing this state.”
Texas Values president Jonathan Saenz
: “We are thrilled that Gov. Abbott added the Privacy issue to a list of 20-plus bills on the special session call. We know that Gov. Abbott, along with the overwhelming majority of Texans, supports keeping men and boys out of girls’ restrooms, showers, and locker rooms. This is a growing problem that must be solved before children head back to school. We look forward to helping parents and children to have the protection in law they deserve.”
Texas Association of Business president Chris Wallace
: “The Governor has the prerogative of calling a special session to address issues he believes are important to Texans. Many of the issues Governor Abbott has listed for the special session will have a positive impact on the state. However, TAB is on record opposing discriminatory language such as HB2899.”
Texas Right to Life
: “Today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for a special session for the 85th Texas Legislature, which will start July 18. The governor announced that he will add 19 items to the special session call once the Legislature passes a necessary Sunset bill to renew state agencies, including the Texas Medical Board. Among the additional 19 items are four Pro-Life policies, two of which are Texas Right to Life’s Pro-Life Priorities for the 85th Session.
During the 85th regular legislative session, under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the Texas House Freedom Caucus, the Texas Legislature successfully passed important Pro-Life reforms, including the Dismemberment Abortion Ban Amendment. Unfortunately, personal politics in the House of Representatives killed other major Pro-Life bills. Texas Right to Life applauds Governor Abbott for reviving these issues.
Most importantly, the special session will include Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform and Do-Not-Resuscitate Order Reform, two bills prioritized by Texas Right to Life. Senator Taylor successfully spearheaded the Senate’s passage of Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform with Senate Bill 20, but House leadership killed the bill by refusing to schedule a floor vote. After Senator Taylor crafted a Pro-Life Insurance Reform amendment for House Bill 3124, House leadership killed the measure again.
Similarly, House leadership refused to schedule the Do-Not-Resuscitate Order Reform for a floor vote until too late in the session. The bill by Dr. Greg Bonnen
, a Republican representative from Galveston County, explicitly requires patient or surrogate consent in most circumstances before a Do-Not-Resuscitate order is placed on a patient. Texas Right to Life has led the campaign to end the unethical practice of secret and unwanted DNR orders after witnessing this patient abuse firsthand while serving as patient advocates. Unfortunately, the political games and last-minute scheduling killed the bill without the measure ever reaching the House floor.
The third Pro-Life item that Governor Abbott added to his supplemental special session call is a non-priority abortion-related bill to reform reporting of abortion and abortion complications, which the House also killed in the regular session. Abbott specifically mentioned his expectation that the bill includes an amendment added by Senator Bryan Hughes to collect data on minors seeking elective abortions as well as language authorizing the State Health Department to keep statistics on the abortionists who cause complications.
Lastly, the governor added a measure to stop state and local municipalities from sending taxpayer dollars to abortion providers and their affiliates. The governor plans to sign the two-year state budget passed during the regular session that contains a strong Pro-Life prohibition on abortion providers and affiliates. This stand-alone bill will address cities and counties that funnel money to the profit-driven abortion industry. …”
ABBOTT’S POLITICALLY RISKY SPECIAL SESSION:
— “In calling a special session with a broad array of issues, it was a show of strength—but also a demonstration of weakness. Abbott’s strength was using the power of his office to call the session and set the agenda. It also revealed his lack of leadership, because almost everything on Abbott’s list was something that might have passed in the regular legislative session if he had simply engaged lawmakers instead of sitting on the sideline until it was too late for the bills’ salvation. Abbott also set himself up for a potential pratfall if little to nothing on his list reaches his desk in the course of the thirty-day session. He now he owns this list of legislative priorities. Passage is as much up to him as it is the legislative leadership.”
SOME PERSPECTIVE: Dylan O. Drummond
TEXAS LAWMAKERS, ‘BATHROOM BILL’ OPPONENTS PREPARE FOR ROUND TWO:
The Texas Tribune’s Alexa Ura
— ” … Gov. Greg Abbott
on Tuesday announced he was calling lawmakers back for legislative overtime in a special session beginning July 18 — and bathroom restrictions are on the agenda. …
It’s unclear whether any bathroom regulations will make it out of a special session, where lawmakers have a much shorter window to send proposals to the governor’s desk. But the governor’s decision to extend a divisive, months-long debate on the issue and give lawmakers a second chance to pass a “bathroom bill” has pushed a dark cloud of uncertainty back over transgender Texans and their families. …
Abbott’s special session announcement and the inclusion of bathroom restrictions comes after months of legislative bickering and an unprecedented show of force at the Capitol by transgender Texans and their allies.
The controversial bathroom proposals easily dominated the legislative session: Folks on both sides of the issue gathered at the Capitol for protests, lobbying days and rallies on the issue. Lawmakers held two overnight
hearings during which transgender Texans and their families pleaded with them to not pull back established protections against discrimination and accommodations they’ve obtained. And the proposals even led to Republican infighting — including two sets of dueling press conferences — about legislative inaction.”
ABBOTT SIGNS TEXTING WHILE DRIVING BAN INTO LAW:
Per AP — “Texting while driving will soon be illegal in Texas.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed the ban into law Tuesday, ending a decade-long effort by safety advocates to reduce potentially deadly driver distractions on the road.
Texas will become one of the last states to adopt some kind of texting while driving ban when the law takes effect Sept. 1. Texting would be punishable by a fine of up to $99 for first-time offenders and $200 for repeat offenses. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, Arizona, Missouri and Montana will be the only states without a texting while driving ban.
Dozens of Texas cities already ban texting while driving. The state law covers texting only and prohibits the use of hand-held phones to “read write or send an electronic message” while driving. Other Internet use for navigation or music programs is allowed.
Abbott said Tuesday that when lawmakers meet in special session in July and August, he wants them to pass a state law that will roll back any local ordinances that ban mobile device use beyond texting while driving. “We don’t need a patchwork of regulations,” across the state, Abbott said.
Safety advocates have been pressing for the texting ban for years. Lawmakers passed a ban in 2011, only to see it vetoed by then-Gov.
. The issue gained new momentum after a March church bus crash killed 13 people. Federal investigators have said the driver of a pickup truck that hit the bus said he was checking for a text when the crash happened and had taken prescription drugs.
Some lawmakers have worried the ban will be difficult and confusing to enforce, and will give police new powers to pull over people who might be doing something legal if they mistake the presence of a phone or mobile device for texting.”
Keep up the good work Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
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