Sunset Bill Tops Greg Abbott’s Special Session Agenda

The governor has 20 issues he plans to take up during the session, most importantly the so-called sunset bill, which determines the future of some state agencies.

By Rhonda FanningJuly 3, 2017 3:26 pm

Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda for the upcoming special session of the Legislature stretches to 20 items.

Mike Ward, Austin bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle, says the governor’s strategy for this session is very unusual – and puts the focus squarely on the his own agenda.

“He is lining up bill sponsors for the individual 20 bills, he is helping write the bills to make sure that the outcome is what he wants…. It’s very rare that a [Texas] governor does this,” Ward says.

Democrats have signed on to around a quarter of the bills, many of which are hot-button Republican issues. There are also bipartisan issues like school finance reform and maternal mortality.

Ward says he expects the bills to move swiftly through the Senate but that they will debated more fiercely in the House. He also expects Abbott to rely on the House’s Republican majority to get half of his bills passed.

Some legislators are also calling for swift passage of unfinished business from the regular session, including the sunset bill – Abbott’s primary reason for calling the special session. Ward is unsure how likely it is to pass, but says lege-watchers can count on drama from the halls of the Capitol.

Legislators are waiting for Gov. Abbott to issue the official call for the session, which opens up the filing process for new bills, but Ward says it’s unlikely the governor will actually address any new topics during the special session.

Ward says Abbott’s strategy for the special session could look like a win for the governor regardless of how successful he is at passing legislation.

“Even if nothing passes he still is the focus, he appears to be in control…. It gives him a campaign issue going into a reelection campaign,” Ward says.

Abbott could announce yet another special session if the legislature only manages to pass the sunset bill, but Ward says one session would be enough to show that he gave the issues a shot.


Written by Caroline Covington.