Legislative Update: Special Session Announced

            As if the heat and humidity alone wasn’t enough reason for most right-thinking people to want to leave Austin during the summer, the Legislature will now be back in town. 

Special session is called

            On Tuesday, Governor Abbott announced that he was calling the Legislature back into a 30-day special session convening on Tuesday, July 18. The primary reason is to re-authorize the continuation of the Texas Medical Board (TMB) and adjust sunset review dates for other agencies, which legislators failed to do thanks to the Lieutenant Governor’s refusal to pass a temporary sunset fix for that agency through the Senate at the end of the regular session in a thinly-veiled attempt to force a special session. Consider that mission accomplished.

            After the Legislature has made progress on the TMB sunset matter, the governor said he will then add 19 other issues to the call of the special session. That supplemental agenda includes lots of red meat for his party’s primary voters—bathroom gender regulations, state and local spending caps, local property tax limits, pre-emption of various local ordinances/regulations, pro-life items, school vouchers for certain special-needs students, election fraud, and more. Furthermore, legislation on topics that are not within that call can always be filed and passed unless a legislator raises an objection (known as a “point of order”) to that bill when it is up for a vote on the floor. Therefore, pretty much anything that died during the regular session is now back in play, at least in theory. The long list of issues on the governor’s call also ensures that this special session will last a full 30 days, as opposed to the two or three days it will take to renew the TMB, but the volume of topics also makes it likely that they will not be able to pass legislation on all of them, raising the question of whether the governor will call subsequent special sessions on any unfinished business from this first one.

            One final note: As of today, the proclamation calling the Legislature back to session has not been officially filed, and even when it is filed, it may include only the sunset matter for starters—the other issues can be added later. As a result, all of this is subject to change at the governor’s whim. (Sometimes it’s good to be the king, no?)

Looking ahead

            As with any type of session, bills for the special session can be pre-filed starting 30 days before the Legislature is gaveled in, so we may get a preview of the mischief starting as soon as Monday, June 19. We’ll continue to send everyone periodic updates throughout the special session, although it may not always be on Fridays because we will be on the road giving Legislative Update presentations throughout the state (more on that below).

            Meanwhile, everyone is waiting and watching to see what vetoes the governor hands down before his June 18 deadline. If you need help getting something vetoed or preventing something from being vetoed, contact Shannon for more information.

Legislative update CLEs

            Online registration for our popular Legislative Update seminars is NOW OPEN. We are coming to 21 different locations throughout the state this summer to help everyone get up to speed on all the relevant statutory changes made during the session. All attendees qualify for 3 hours or CLE or TCOLE credit and receive a copy of our Legislative Update book. More than 500 600 700 (!) people have already registered and some locations fill to capacity quickly, so don’t delay—register today!

Pre-sales begin for 2017 code books

            Pre-sale orders for TDCAA’s 2017 books are now being taken! Receive one of the first shipments of our new Penal Codes, Codes of Criminal Procedure, and other books by pre-ordering now on the TDCAA website (www.tdcaa.com/publications) or by calling us at 512/474-2436.

Quotes of the week

“We passed the fewest number of bills that have been passed out of the Legislature in decades. More government doesn’t mean better government. Less government means better government because less government is more freedom.”
            —Gov. Greg Abbott, as told to an audience at a dinner hosted by the Bell County Republican Party the night before announcing a special session called to pass more bills. [Wait, what?]


“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.”
            —Gov. Abbott, the night before announcing a special session that will focus in part on placing state limits upon local governments.


“The air in Austin is pretty sweet with an unemployment rate that is a point lower than the state, a lower violent crime rate than the state, with the highest rates of patents and venture capital in the state. … And the air is sweet with tacos.”
            —Austin Mayor Steve Adler, in response to the governor’s remarks.


“My worry is that conversation has deteriorated to a point where we’ve just become accustomed to it. … I’m told by politicians that it doesn’t help you to be civil. You want to appeal to your base and to fire them up and all that. I understand that. But at some point, some leaders are going to have to rise above and show us a different way and call us on these things.”
            —Fr. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, in a Wall Street Journal article about the decline of civil discourse in American society.

“Just in case any of you were wondering, I’m filing constitutional carry on day 1 of #specialsession. #onward #2A #txlege
            —Tweet by State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) immediately after Gov. Abbott announced his call for the special session (which does not include any gun issues).


“I love you and I will fight for you and I’m invoking my 5th Amendment rights.”
            —State Rep. Victoria Neave (D-Dallas), at the scene of a traffic accident at which she was eventually arrested for DWI by Dallas PD officers.


“As usual, it turns out all the speculators are wrong. No one saw this coming.”
            —Gov. Abbott, in a Dallas radio interview about the scope of his special session call.