This Tuesday, Gov, Greg Abbott announced a third called special session of the Texas Legislature to convene on Monday, September 20. In the proclamation announcing the special session, Abbott directed the Legislature to pass legislation on the following issues:
- Drawing district maps based on the 2020 census data;
- Banning vaccine mandates by governmental entities, including school districts;
- Restricting transgender athletes from participating in sports with their own identified gender group;
- Appropriating federal funds from the American Rescue Plan; and
- Outlawing the tethering of dogs with heavy chains, considering the veto statement previously issued on similar legislation
The Texas Legislature intends to draw and approve new maps for its state Senate and state House districts, as well as for the State Board of Education and U.S. Congress. Due to population increases over the past ten years, Texas was apportioned two new U.S. congressional seats.
Last month, Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates by governmental entities in Texas. Abbott is now directing the Texas Legislature to codify that in Texas law. Vaccines have been proven to be extremely effective in the fight against COVID-19, and governmental entities, including schools, have long required FDA-approved vaccinations for other diseases such as polio and measles. (The Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval last month.)
Abbott also previously directed the Legislature to pass restrictions on transgender athletes during the regular session in the spring and the two previous called sessions this summer. The legislation failed to pass in all three legislative sessions, thanks in part to advocacy against these bills by Texas AFT and other organizations.