Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will deliver his annual State of the State Address on Monday evening. The address will be broadcast on radio and television statewide, and the governor is expected to lay out his priorities for the current legislative session, including emergency items he wants to see passed quickly.
The speech has an important political dimension for Abbott. He will speak from a small business in Austin, at an unusual evening hour. Democrats will issue a response to the speech, much as the minority party does when the president delivers the State of the Union address.
Jim Riddlesperger is a political science professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He told Texas Standard Abbott’s emergency items are likely to address preserving funding for local police departments, protecting the Texas energy industry and providing liability protection for businesses during the pandemic.
Riddlesperger says the “defund the police” movement is “largely imaginary in Texas,” but Abbott has butted heads with the city of Austin over deployments of police near the state Capitol.
As the new Biden administration announces initiatives that emphasize renewable energy resources, Abbott has staked out a position as a defender of the fossil fuel-based energy industry in Texas.
Abbott’s focus on business liability centers around the potential for lawsuits by people who acquire COVID-19 while at a business.
Riddlesperger says Abbott wants to appeal to “both sides” as he potentially prepares to seek reelection in 2022.
“[Abbott has] tried to take the COVID virus seriously on the one hand, without jeopardizing Texas business on the other,” he said.
He suspects that Abbott wants to pivot from addressing the dangers of the virus to protecting businesses from economic risk caused by business closures.