Governor starts process of signing special session bills into law

After a busy third special session of the Texas Legislature concluded last week, bills passed by the House and Senate were sent to the governor for his final approval. So far, Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law bills regarding redistricting, transgender student athletes, and the funding of higher education construction projects.

On Monday, Abbott signed into law all four redistricting maps drawn by the Legislature–the 15-district State Board of Education map, the 31-district State Senate map, the 150-district State House map, and the 38-district U.S. Congress map. All four maps have been attacked for underrepresenting communities of color, which fueled more than 95% of the state’s population growth in the 10 years since the maps were last redrawn. Several lawsuits have already been filed alleging the new maps are unconstitutional and violate the Voting Rights Act. 

Also on Monday, the governor also signed HB 25, which would prevent transgender students from competing in sports with their own gender group. The Biden administration has publicly condemned the passage of HB 25, but it has not yet taken any legal action against the bill. The bill takes effect on January 18, 2022.

SB 52, which authorizes the issuance of $3.3 billion in tuition revenue bonds for higher education institutions to finance construction projects, was signed by the governor Monday and is effective on January 18, 2022. As of press time, the governor had not taken action on SB 8, the bill allocating federal COVID-19 stimulus money. The governor also had not taken action on SJR 2, which would raise the state homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 for school property taxes, saving the average homeowner about $176, according to the bill’s author, Sen. Paul Bettencourt. After receiving the governor’s signature, this resolution also requires the approval of Texas voters in order to become part of the Texas constitution. SB 1, which provides additional property tax relief to homeowners did receive the governor’s signature earlier this week.

The governor has until November 8 to sign these bills into law, veto them, or allow them to become law without his signature.