TDCAA Legislative Update: Called Session 1, Update 2

July 16, 2021

They’re no longer back.

Breakin’ (Quorum) 2: Electric Boogaloo

Enough Democratic House members left the state to bust quorum in that chamber, meaning it cannot conduct business until at least 100 members are present and accounted for. This seems to happen every 20–30 years and the state has managed to survive each time, so we’re just going to kick back and enjoy the show while politicians do politician things.

Bail reform

Although the House is in limbo, the Senate still has enough warm bodies to act. That upper chamber passed SB 6 and SJR 3 by Huffman (R-Houston) on unanimous votes. The joint resolution is the same as the regular session version, but the bill was amended before passage in response to several technical issues raised during the committee hearings on Saturday. (Yes, we spent six hours in the capitol last Saturday working on bail stuff—aren’t you jealous?) As we predicted last week, these bills elicited nowhere near as much angst in the Senate as in the House, so now they head to that lower chamber, where their future remains uncertain.

Next week

Who the heck knows? We’re all at the mercy of the news cycle and the insatiable drive for follows, likes, clicks, and donations.

Legislative Update CLEs

We’ll continue to monitor the special session while finalizing our Legislative Update course for launching next month. So far, we’ve accepted 190 registrations for the in-person course in Rockwall (August 12), 320 registrations for the in-person course in Galveston (September 21), and more than 900 registrations for the online course that will go live in the latter half of August. Registration details are available by clicking any of those links, so click on the one that interests you and sign up now—especially if you are taking the course online, as early registration guarantees that you will receive your 2021–23 Legislative Update book in time to follow along with our speakers as you take the course.

Prosecutors: Journeys to Justice

TDCAA’s Diversity, Recruitment, and Retention Committee used a grant from the Texas Bar Foundation to create another tool for you in the recruitment of new talent for your office. Prosecutors: Journeys to Justice highlights the opportunities that being a prosecutor can offer to new lawyers and the benefits that a diverse prosecutor’s office can provide to local communities. You can use this short video when speaking to local schools and community gatherings about the importance of diversity in our profession. Visit to watch and share the video and other related resources generated by the committee.


Some articles that you might find interesting:

  • “The Prosecutor Exodus” (City Journal)
  • “A lesson in understanding serial killers and child molesters” (book review from The Spectator)
  • “US overdose deaths hit record 93,000 in pandemic last year” (AP News)

Quotes of the Week

“My Democratic colleagues have been quoted saying ‘all options are on the table.’ Respectfully, all options are on the table for myself as well.”
            —House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), in an interview the day before the first called session convened. There is currently a “call” on the House, which means House sergeants-at-arms and DPS officers have been instructed to find and return missing members to that chamber.

“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, [and] they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done.”
            —Gov. Greg Abbott, who has promised to call as many special sessions as needed to get some of his preferred legislation passed.

“Our goal is not to release them. Our goal is to jail them.”
            —Abbott, talking about the migrants crossing the Texas-Mexico border. (But if you assumed he was talking about House Democrats, we will excuse that honest mistake. Who can keep track anymore?)

“It’s like being a truant at school. You’re supposed to be in the classroom, but you’re not. … That’s what you have—you have truancy here in the purest sense of the word. These officials don’t want to be back in the chamber, and if you’re going to bring them back, you’re probably going to have to resort to something that you’re not going to be happy about.”
            —Bill Miller, Austin lobbyist, finding an analogy for the recent quorum-busting.