Every odd numbered year, for 140 days, Texas lawmakers meet in the Austin to participate in the political drama that is a legislative session. Each legislator tries to cram as many bills onto the floor as possible in an effort to maybe, just maybe, help it to become law. While the curtains on this year’s drama are soon set to drop and all the political actors are making plans to head back to their part of Texas, a potential encore performance may be looming. We’re talking about a possible special legislative session.
Ross Ramsey is executive editor and co-founder of the Texas Tribune. He says, as of this writing, the reason lawmakers could head to a special session is a yet un-passed and “phenomenally boring” piece of legislation – the Sunset Safety Net Bill.
“The legislature periodically reviews state agencies, agencies that don’t pass their reviews go out of business,” Ramsey says. “And if they don’t finish the review, unless there’s a Safety Net Bill, those agencies just lose their authorization and disappear.”
Ramsey says there are five agencies that have yet to get their reviews and which could go away unless Gov. Greg Abbott decides to call lawmakers back to pass the Safety Net Bill.
Abbott is the only lawmaker able to call a special session – and only topics he puts forward are allowed to be addressed during such a session. Other lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, are pushing Abbott to add bills including the so-called ‘bathroom bill’ to a special session agenda.
“The problem here is that the bathroom bill in particular has split conservatives between those whose interests are primarily economic on one side and those whose interests are primarily social interests on the other,” Ramsey says.
He says it’s unclear on which side Abbott will come down.