Today at 2:30 Governor Greg Abbott announced there would be a special session starting on July 18th. Abbott gave legislators a 20 item list of bills he wants passed. His list did include a “bathroom bill” — but only after they approve must-pass legislation that they failed to advance during the regular session. Abbott felt all of this legislation could have passed during the regular session making this special session “entirely avoidable.”
Gov. Abbott made sure legislators knew property taxes was one of his key issues, reiterating his support for legislation that would create automatic rollback elections when a city or county wants to raise property taxes above a certain amount.
One of the other critical issues for calling back the legislature was the failing to pass a “Sunset Bill” which would keep the Sunset Commission in place which maintains and decides which state boards are kept in place for issuing and renewing licenses for Doctors, Nurses and so many other critical agencies in the state. “Because of their inability or refusal to pass a simple law that would prevent the medical profession from shutting down, I’m announcing a special session to complete that unfinished business. But if I’m going to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a special session, I intend to make it count,” Abbott stated (link).
The long list of Abbott’s demands includes an anti-LGBTQ “bathroom bill” which would be devastating to the Transgender community in Texas. The “bathroom bill” will be the hot button topic at the end of this special session, if there is time.
Here is the complete list of all 20 topics Abbott demands be dealt with: 1.”Sunset” legislation, which would keep several crucial state agencies alive. 2. A teacher pay raise of $1,000 . 3. Giving school administrators flexibility in teacher hiring and retention. 4. School finance reform. 5. School choice for special needs students. 6. Rollback elections for property tax increases. 7. Caps on state and local spending. 8. Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land. 9. Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects. 10. Speeding up local government permitting processes. 11. Municipal annexation reform. 12. Preventing local entities from passing their own texting-while-driving bans. 13. Restrictions on school bathroom use for transgender students. 14. Prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues. 15. Prohibiting the use of taxpayer funding to subsidize health providers that also perform abortion. 16. Requiring women to get separate insurance policies to cover non-emergency abortions. 17. Increasing existing reporting requirements when complications arise during abortions. 18. Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders. 19. Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud. 20. Extending the state’s maternal mortality task force.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick knew exactly what he was doing when he held the “Sunset Bill” hostage and did not allow it to pass knowing it would force Governor Abbott to call a special session. However by Abbott saying these other issues must be resolved first before moving on to a “bathroom bill” is Abbott’s insurance for his re-election campaign in 2018. By demanding that the other issues in his long list of 20 topics be dealt with first it is very possible a “bathroom bill” will never even see the light of day. By doing this Abbott protected himself from looking weak and controlled by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who very well may primary Abbott in 2018. Abbott can and will say he included the bathroom issue in his special session.
Like former Governor Rick Perry, Governor Abbott cannot stand Austin, Travis County, Mayor Adler or our Sheriff Sally Hernandez. He hates the liberal inclusive city of Austin even more because that is where his office is located. The Capitol is located in the heart of Austin where he’s forced to observe diversity in every aspect of life. Our citizens come from all ethnicities, religions, economic backgrounds, income levels and types of employment. But the once thing that the majority of Austinites have in common is compassion and acceptance. Can you imagine living in a world under such a concept?
In Governor Abbott’s speech at the GOP dinner held in Belton, Texas on Monday Abbott was quoted as saying: “As I was coming up here from Austin, Texas, tonight, I got to tell you, it’s great to be out of the People’s Republic of Austin. As you leave Austin and start heading north, you start feeling different. Once you cross the Travis County line, it starts smelling different. And you know what that fragrance is? Freedom. It’s the smell of freedom that does not exist in Austin, Texas.That said, with your senators and legislators, I can tell you that today, Austin is more free than it was before the legislative session began because the state of Texas passed laws that overrode the liberal agenda of Austin, Texas, that is trying to send Texas down the pathway of California. As your governor, I will not allow Austin, Texas, to Californiaize the Lone Star State.” (link)
Governor Abbott also referred to Austin, and Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, as the “seedbed of sanctuary city policies” that will be blocked under a new law that was among his priority items, SB4 the “Sanctuary City-Show Me Your Papers” law. Abbott continued “We worked on ensuring that we kept every person in the state safe, every man, woman and child, and that meant we had to confront a problem that began festering in Austin, Texas, and began to spread across the state. It meant that we had to pass a ban on sanctuary city policies. This will stop officials like Sanctuary Sally in Travis County, Texas, who was releasing dangerous criminals out of jail, back out on the street. People who have committed crimes like rape. My view is if you don’t want to enforce the law, you shouldn’t be involved in law enforcement.” (link)
Abbott can rarely speak without attacking the city of Austin and Travis County in some form. The point that Mayor Adler and the City of Austin along with San Antonio are taking on Governor Abbott and the State of Texas in a lawsuit to demolish SB 4, this unconstitutional racial profiling law is now like a thorn he can’t remove. I’m 60 and have lived my whole life in Texas. I always planned to retire to Austin and become involved as an activist to continue to fight for LGBTQ rights in Texas. Austin is the most inclusive city in Texas for our LGBTQ Community.
I have already been in contact with the Human Rights Campaign Austin field representative who told me that they will not be closing their temporary office as planned because of Abbott’s announcement today. I guaranty you that the LGBTQ Community along with Equality Texas, The Texas Freedom Network, ACLU of Texas, LULAC, Progress Texas and so many other organizations and groups will be prepared to fight all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States if necessary. Abbott cannot come into Austin and attack our diversity, compassion, empathy for others in a city who allows everyone to feel loved and not expect to have a fight on his hands!