State Watch

Texas Gov. Abbott says second special session will start Saturday

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has officially called for a second special legislative session to begin Saturday, with elections on the agenda as state GOP members aim to pass a sweeping voting bill that prompted Democratic lawmakers to leave the state in protest last month. 

The governor, who had promised to call a second session to pass the GOP elections bill, issued a proclamation Thursday saying the session will begin at noon Saturday, one day after the first special session is scheduled to end. 

The agenda items for the upcoming special session including “legislation strengthening the integrity of elections in Texas,” as well as a number of other items like legislation banning mandatory mask mandates in public K-12 schools and providing additional funding for border security. 

Abbott also unveiled the proclamation on Twitter Thursday, writing that the Texas legislature “must finish the work that was started.” 

Texas House Democrats who fled the state have not yet revealed how they plan to move forward in their response to GOP members’ push to pass the voting rights legislation, which Democrats have fervently opposed over arguments that it would disproportionately make it harder for voters of color and those with disabilities to cast their ballots. 

The bill, which was passed by the GOP-led state Senate last month a day after House Democrats left on a flight bound for Washington, D.C., proposes several restrictions on voting, including banning around-the-clock voting centers and voting facilities in outdoor structures such as parking garages. 

The legislation also calls for the elimination of straight-ticket voting and limits on the use of drop boxes. 

Abbott said last month said that Democratic lawmakers who left to deny Republicans a quorum to convene a special legislative session would be arrested upon their return to Texas and “will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done.” 

However, Texas Democrats pushed back on the threat, with Texas state Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D) arguing last month that she and other lawmakers had not committed a crime

The Texas Tribune noted this week that the 50 House Democrats could take a number of actions moving forward, including staying in D.C., returning to Texas but remaining in their home districts or traveling back to the state Capitol in Austin. 

The lawmakers could also travel to another state to continue preventing a quorum in the state House. 

State Rep. Alma Allen (D) told reporters Tuesday that the caucus will likely make a decision on next steps depending on what happens with efforts to advance federal voting rights legislation in Congress.  

Abbott has threatened to continue calling special sessions until the state voting bill is passed.

Tags elections bill special session Texas Texas Democrats Texas elections Texas Tribune voting bill Washington D.C.

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