Gov. Greg Abbott Doling Out Legislative Assignments Ahead of Special Session

AUSTIN- Several lawmakers are making plans to help Texas understand why more women here are dying during and after pregnancy.Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, and Reps. Cindy Burkett, Shawn Thierry and Armando Walle will file bills during the upcoming special session that would extend the life of a task force that studies pregnancy related deaths in the state. The issue is one of 20 items that Abbott has said would be included on the agenda of a special legislative session that will begin July 18. He began this week announcing the names of lawmakers who will sponsor his priorities during the 30-day lawmaking session."Pregnancy-related deaths are a devastating tragedy that leave many Texas families broken," Abbott said in a statement. "That is why extending the maternal mortality task force to find solutions is of vital importance."According to a 2016 biennial report from the task force and the Department of State Health Services, there were 189 maternal deaths between 2011 and 2012. The top causes included cardiac events, hypertension and eclampsia - seizures that result from elevated blood pressure - as well as drug overdose."We must do all that we can to ensure that no woman in Texas who bears life, will do so in exchange for her own," said Thierry, a Houston Democrat.Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said the task force's critical work should continue."Today our state is working hard to collect, analyze and address the top causes, but there is so much more we can do," Kolkhorst said in a prepared statement. Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, said she and Kolkhorst would file proposals that extend the task force and ensure that women are screened for postpartum depression.Though he has yet to file a special session proclamation, which is necessary for lawmakers to begin filing bills, on Thursday Abbott named a handful of lawmakers that would take the lead on other items on the special session agenda. Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, and Sen. Donna Campbell, R- New Braunfels, will sponsor bills that aim to limit cities' ability to annex property. Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, and Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, will carry bills that seek to end mail-in ballot fraud.Rep. Ron Simmon's, R-Carrollton, also told The Dallas Morning News this week that he plans to file two different versions of the so-called "bathroom bill." That proposal, which would limit where transgender Texans can use the restroom, was among the most controversial of the regular legislative session that ended on Memorial Day.   Continue reading...

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