Texas legislature clears uncertainty over return of lawmakers
AUSTIN (Nexstar) – As Texas lawmakers close the legislative session at the State Capitol, they are unsure of when they will return to Austin.
All eyes are on Governor Greg Abbott to announce a special legislative session and, most importantly, when he will. He has already expressed his intention to remind lawmakers in the fall to redraw legislative maps when the Census Bureau releases its demographics for a redistribution.
Abbott, a Republican, called this session “One of the most conservative legislative sessions our state has ever seen.”
“We have passed legislation to secure our border, support our police, expand Second Amendment rights, defend religious freedom and protect the sanctity of life in Texas,” he said Monday afternoon. “We have also adopted several key emergency measures such as reforming the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, aging and stabilizing our electricity grid, ensuring COVID-19 liability protection and expanding access to broadband and telemedicine. ”
Those legislative victories, which House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick – both Republicans – highlighted on Monday, also came from the failure to pass some Tory priorities, like rule changes. electoral campaign and bail reform.
Texas Democrats have something to do with it. They organized a walkout in the house on Sunday evening, breaking a quorum against a midnight deadline to pass the electoral bill during its debate. They have used delay tactics last week to abolish a law that would have required high school student-athletes to participate in sports corresponding to their biological sex.
“My fellow Democrats have been proficient in their use of the rules to weed out bad bills on and off the floor this session,” said State Representative James Talarico, D-Round Rock. “And we’ve had to get creative to really block some of this dangerous piece of legislation that’s trying to get pushed through the legislature.”
In remarks in the House on Monday, Phelan applauded legislative efforts to improve the health of Texas moms and pass a balanced budget during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We kept our commitment to public education and higher education when no one thought we could,” he said. “But we did it.”
Phelan and Patrick highlighted updates to the utility grid, which has become a focal point after the deadly winter storm in February.
“We’ve done a lot, but we have more to do,” Patrick said in an interview on Monday.
Lawmakers have passed bills reorganizing the Texas Electric Reliability Council and the Texas Utilities Commission, which are responsible for managing the power grid.
“(We passed) major changes, winterization, we make sure we have the money to keep ERCOT going so they don’t have a liquidity problem, but what we don’t have fact, which the Senate asked to do, was to relieve the taxpayers ”, Patrick expressed his opinion.
“When we come back, if we get another bill that puts more money into the industry, I don’t take it to the prosecution,” said Patrick. “I want the money to hit the bottom for taxpayers. We have taken positions on almost every session, and we are not going to give up on this issue. “
Patrick has lobbied the management of the House leadership’s calendar, which he says is responsible for failing some of his key priorities, such as the overhaul of the elections, the transgender student-athlete bill. , legislation to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying and a bill he says will improve for free. speech on social networks.
“It was just mismanagement of the schedule,” said Patrick. “Our trains run on time in the Senate, we are doing our job.”
“We spent them in March and April,” he said. “They’ve been sitting there for months and they’re waiting the last two or three days… you’re just asking for trouble. Now the Democrats shouldn’t have left, but they had the opportunity and they did, ”Patrick chided.
In Phelan’s speech, the first-year president didn’t specifically mention Patrick or the Senate, but he championed the organization’s work and legislative priorities.
“Every member of this organization was productive,” said Phelan.
“No matter what outside forces try to distract us or diminish the work of this organ, we are the Texas House. In this House, we work hard and our rules matter, ”he said, seeming to search the Senate by regularly suspending its rules to take charge of bills.
As lawmakers return home to recuperate before being called back to Capitol Hill, Patrick said he gave Abbott a list of laws to prioritize. He said he believed Conservative priorities should be considered in a special session separate from the one devoted to the federal redistribution and stimulus.
“Redistribution is difficult,” he said. “We have to redesign the Congress cards, the Senate cards, the House cards and we’re going to have about $ 16 billion from the federal government, we have to figure out how we’re going to spend it.
“When you redraw neighborhoods of people, most of them are not satisfied because it changes every 10 years just based on population, it’s not a good time to try to get a vote sometimes. “, did he declare. “So it must be its own separate agreement and must not be involved in politics.”