Texas Legislature convenes for third Special Session

Senator Jose Menendez with gray jacket and purple tie speaking on Senate floor
Photo: Sen. José Menéndez speaks on the Senate floor Wednesday.

On Monday, the Texas Legislature convened for a third special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott to address redistricting, ban vaccine mandates, restrict transgender athletes, appropriate federal stimulus money, and outlaw certain tethering of dogs in unsafe conditions. On Wednesday, just two weeks after his initial announcement of the special session, Abbott added two additional items to the agenda—additional property tax relief to what had already been passed in the previous special session and a new constitutional amendment to make it harder for people accused of certain crimes to be released on bail. 

On Tuesday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on the discriminatory transgender athlete bill, SB 3. Despite the vast majority of testimony coming from those opposing the bill, the committee sent the bill to be voted on by the full Senate, which passed the bill the following day. This is the fourth time this year that the Senate passed a version of this legislation.

This week Sen. Joan Huffman proposed maps dividing the state into new Senate and State Board of Education (SBOE) districts based on 2020 census data. Republicans have control over the redistricting process due to their majorities in both the Senate and House. We share our allies’ concerns that the Republicans will use their control to decrease the number of competitive seats and ignore the growth of communities of color. The Senate Redistricting Committee will receive testimony on these two proposed maps at the Capitol today and tomorrow.

This week, Abbott also signed several remaining bills passed by the Legislature during the previous special session into law. HB 5, which provides funding for the 13th check for TRS members, and SB 3, the classroom censorship bill, were signed by the governor last Friday. HB 5 will be effective immediately due to the widespread support that the bill received from lawmakers, but SB 3 will not be effective until December 2. Because the bill requires the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to be amended by SBOE, it will likely take much longer for the bill to be fully implemented.