87th Texas Legislature adjourns third (and final?) special session
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Date Posted: 10/19/2021 | Author: Mark Wiggins
The third special session of the 87th Texas Legislature adjourned “sine die” very early this morning, October 19, 2021. It was the last day allowed for the 30-day session, and the House and Senate adjourned after lawmakers passed several controversial bills, including redistricting legislation that will determine partisan control of Texas for the next 10 years.
The legislature is only required to meet for 140 days every other year unless called back to Austin by the governor for a special session lasting up to 30 days. Governor Greg Abbott called legislators back for three special sessions this year.
The third special session was initially called to pass new voting maps as part of the constitutionally mandated redistricting process. Legislators passed new maps that will determine control of the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, State Board of Education, and U.S. Congress for the next 10 years.
Beyond redistricting, legislators considered few education-related bills during the third special session, unlike the prior sessions. However, lawmakers did ultimately pass House Bill (HB) 25, which restricts the participation of transgender students in University Interscholastic League (UIL) athletic competitions to those that correspond with the gender assigned at birth. The controversial legislation was a priority of Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but it did not garner enough support to pass during the regular session or the first two special sessions, prompting the governor to put it back on the agenda for the third special session.
Legislators also passed HB 133, which expands the education benefits at public institutions of higher education to adult children of public servants killed in the line of duty; Senate Bill (SB) 5, which relates to dog restraints; SB 52, which relates to higher education tuition revenue bonds; SB 1, which will ask voters to decide a constitutional amendment next year to increase the homestead exemption to $40,000; and SB 8, which directs how state agencies must spend billions in federal COVID-19 relief funds.
The legislature did not pass some items that the governor placed on the special session call, including a ban on COVID-19 vaccine mandates that was heavily opposed by businesses and an increase in the penalty for illegal voting.
The governor has the power to call legislators back to Austin for as many special sessions as he chooses, but Gov. Abbott did not immediately indicate whether he intends to call a fourth special session, but he issued a press release today praising lawmakers for their work, saying, “Because of their efforts, the future of Texas is stronger, safer, and freer."
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