An early morning start had the Texas Senate on track to pass out all 20 of Gov. Greg Abbott’s priority items by the end of the second week of the session.
After a rare midnight session Thursday and a weekend of around the clock committee meetings, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, had dozens of bills primed to be heard on the Senate floor over the next three days starting at 9 a.m. Monday. That includes bills dealing with highly controversial issues like abortion, transgender bathroom policies, school vouchers and tree ordinances.
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But while the Senate plows through the agenda with Patrick’s promise to pass all of them by week’s end, the prospects of each in the House remains in doubt. House Speaker Joe Straus and the House met for less than 2 hours all of last week and have yet to pass out the one bill considered must pass — a bill reauthorizing the Texas Medical Board and four other agencies. That bill cleared the Senate early Thursday morning.
The Legislature’s regular session ended in May, but Abbott forced lawmakers back into a 30-day special session to restore the Texas Medical Board and the other boards. But he said last week that if he was going to call the lawmakers back, he was going to make it count.
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That has meant adding 19 other items to the special session call that are mostly celebrated by conservative groups, such as the bathroom bill, which would bar schools and local governments from enacting transgender bathroom policies and instead give the state full authority to set the rules. On Friday, a Senate committee overwhelming passed a bill that would require all people to use the bathroom of the sex that is listed on their birth certificates.
That legislation and other controversial items had hundreds of people filling the Texas Capitol over the last seven days, mostly in protest against the conservative agenda that Abbott has lined out.