State Capital Highlights
AUSTIN — A special session of the Texas Legislature, called by Gov. Greg Abbott, is set to begin on July 18. The agenda is big.
Before adjourning in late May, our 150 state representatives and 31 state senators did the only thing the Texas constitution requires them to do each time they meet for 140 days every two years: they passed a state budget to cover the next two years.
But Abbott decided he wanted them back in Austin to extend the functions of the Texas Medical Board, and to do it with all possible speed. Abbott added a while-you’re-at-it list of 19 other topics for lawmakers to resolve to his satisfaction after they breathe new life into the Texas Medical Board.
Since then, several lawmakers have stepped forward, announcing their intentions to file bills to take care of Abbott’s other topics. For example, Rep. Travis Clardy plans to file legislation to address teacher pay, recruitment and retention. Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, will be joined in the effort by Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, and Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo. “Every Texas student deserves the opportunity for a quality education,” said Clardy. “That means we must have motivated teachers joining the ranks of the many outstanding professionals we have in Texas classrooms today. The first step to accomplishing that goal is providing competitive pay for our teachers while encouraging some of our best and brightest to work where our education needs are greatest. We must also give our school districts the tools they need to retain and reward our best teachers.”
Last week, Abbott applauded Reps. Clardy, Deshotel and Raymond for tackling that topic. Other items Abbott wants addressed in the special session include:
Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices; establishing a school finance reform commission; school choice for special needs students; property tax reform; caps on state and local spending; preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land; preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects; speeding up local government permitting processes; and municipal annexation reform.
Also, a ban on texting while driving; bathroom and locker room rules for transgender students; prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues; prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers; pro-life insurance reform; strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise; strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders; cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud; and extending the maternal mortality task force.
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