By Laura Bray
For the “Progressive Views” column, Boerne Star, June 3, 2023
One of the most jaw-dropping legislative sessions in recent memory, the 88th Texas Legislature officially gaveled out this past Monday. Everyone wondering if the governor would call a Special Session didn’t have long to wait. He called for an immediate Special Session that gaveled in on Monday night that “will be focused on property tax relief and border security,” according to the Texas Tribune. “’Many critical items remain that must be passed,’ Abbott said, which he asserts will require multiple Special Sessions.” (Note that during a Special Session, the Legislature can *only* work on legislation that the governor specifies in his call.) This almost certainly means another Special Session later this summer to try and get school vouchers across the line.
In the regular session’s last week, right when we were focused on which bills would pass and which would die, Speaker Phelan dropped his bombshell and led an impeachment vote in the House for Attorney General Ken Paxton, which passed 123-21. Paxton has been suspended from office pending his trial in the Senate, which will take place some time this summer. The Kendall County Democratic Party (KCDP) hopes the matter will be treated with the same gravity, seriousness, and fairness as it was in the Texas House. Please contact Sen. Campbell (512-463-0125; email here) and ask her to hear the evidence as an impartial juror and reach a verdict based on the strong and persuasive evidence presented by House impeachment managers.
During the regular session, KCDP focused on bills in our core areas of interest (Gun Safety; Public Education/NO Vouchers; Women’s Rights; Voting Rights/Voter Suppression/Redistricting; and Healthcare/Expanding Medicaid), and we will continue to do so throughout the Special Sessions with our calls and emails to our representatives. We were delighted when the House held the line against a persistent Senate and refused to pass a school voucher program….twice. This issue will no doubt come up in a future Special Session, as it was one of the governor’s priority items.
We were also pleased that a bill calling for a referendum for Texas to secede from the US (HB 3596) died in committee and never even had a committee hearing.
Some other victories:
- HB 12, which would extend Medicaid coverage post-pregnancy to 12 months, passed and is now on the governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 2390 would have eliminated polling places on college campuses. This bill never had a hearing and died in committee.
We had some disappointments, too:
- HB 2744 would have raised the age to purchase an automatic weapon from 18 to 21. Strongly supported by the families of the Uvalde shooting victims, this bill passed favorably out of a House committee, but died when it wasn’t scheduled for debate on the full House floor.
- Written by our own Rep. Troxclair, HB 3995 would have given Kendall County (and other counties) more authority to regulate development in unincorporated areas. Unfortunately, this bill was never scheduled for a hearing and died in committee.
- HB 300, exempting menstrual products, baby bottles and supplies, diapers, and more, had wide bipartisan support, but didn’t pass the Senate before the session adjourned.
- HB 2127 is a punitive bill that will further restrict the abilities of cities and counties to issue laws for their own jurisdictions. Critics called it a “Death Star bill.” (Read the Houston Chronicle story here.) It is on the way to the governor for signature.
Of course, any legislation that didn’t pass that the governor feels strongly about (such as school vouchers) may very well come up in a future Special Session. KCDP plans to keep a close eye on the bills introduced in these sessions.
For more information on our advocacy work or information on how to get involved, visit www.kcdems.us or call our office at 830-331-1243.
Laura Bray is the Chair of the Kendall County Democratic Party.