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Texas lawmakers reconvene for special legislative session

At 10 a.m. Republicans and Democrats will meet in Austin
Austin State Capitol building (Source: KCBD File Photo)
Austin State Capitol building (Source: KCBD File Photo)
Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 7:47 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Today marks the beginning of a special legislative session for Texas lawmakers that will last up to 30 days. Republicans and Democrats will meet at 10 this morning to begin work on the priority items outlined by Governor Gregg Abbott.

During a special session, only the governor has the power to lay out an agenda highlighting which bills will take focus during the session. The governor released 11 priority items, a few of which are already high on the ticket for some East Texas lawmakers; bail reform, securing the Texas border, new election measures.

Republican state representative Chris Paddie of Marshall says going into the special session, there are two at the top of his mind.

According to the Marshall representative, “a number of these items, if not all of these items, are things that made it through some point in the process during the regular session, had a lot of support and just didn’t make it across the finish line. So it really is an issue of unfinished business, but starting at the top would be those emergency items and bail reform.”

One of the most highest priority bills that will undergo more work will be one that died in the final hours of the regular session -- the elections bill. This would establish new rules round early voting, local voting options and mail ballots. Republican state representative Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches served on the Elections committee when the elections bill was first being considered.

Clardy said they’re prepared to knock out any issues they face in the special session, he said “I think when the people actually read the final version of the bill, and not what they think its about, but rather what it really is about, will realize it’s designed to make it easier for Texans to vote, and make it harder for people to cheat. That is our motivation.”

A piece of legislation that Representative Clardy said he wished would have made “the call” (the priority items sent by the Governor). The lawmaker said Texans know to expect the heat, but more work need to be done in regulating our state’s power grid.

“During the course of the special session, I think that may be the issue we need that we need to spend a lot of time on. I know we did good work in the regular on energy capacity, but I just have this feeling that we’ve seen extreme weather around the country, extreme weather this winter, and I think we need to do everything we can to prepare for the summer,” said Clardy.

Gov. Greg Abbott is the only one with the power to add new items to a special session agenda, so more work could come to the power grid if he chooses to do so. Abbott also has the ability to keep calling back lawmakers for more special sessions until the work has been completed or to look closer at other bills.

Mineola State Senator Bryan Hughes said, “these issues are all important to Texans, Republicans and Democrats. So we feel like wit the focus of this special session and everyone looking at this we’re going to get it done, all the way through, and if not I hope the governor keeps calling us back until it gets done, it’s that important.”

Hughes said since special sessions are much more focused, 30 days should be more than enough to tackle it all.

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