Senate Plods Through One-third of Gov. Greg Abbott's Special Session Agenda

AUSTIN — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate Republicans gave an initial thumbs up to nearly one-third of Gov. Greg Abbott's special session agenda on Monday.On Day 7 of the special legislative session, the Senate plodded through six of the 20 agenda items on Abbott's task list for the 30-day lawmaking overtime period. They approved bills that would restrict abortion access and provide private school vouchers to disabled children, and they were poised to OK a controversial measure that would restrict local property tax growth. All the bills will require a second vote before moving on to the Texas House.Abbott ordered legislators back to Austin for a special session after they failed amid intraparty squabbling during the regular legislative session to ensure the continued operation of several state agencies, including one that oversees doctors. He added a smorgasbord of other Republican hot-button issues to the agenda, including the controversial so-called "bathroom bill," which would restrict transgender Texans' use of public restrooms, and a host of proposals to limit the authority of city and county officials.Patrick, whose machinations during the regular session helped ensure the need for the overtime session that could cost taxpayers more than $1 million, has been racing to pass all of Abbott's priorities in the Senate. The bombastic Republican pressured Abbott to place the "bathroom bill" and local tax restrictions on the special session agenda. And he has promised that the upper chamber will work quickly to get all of Abbott's priorities passed. The Senate worked late into the night and all weekend long the first week of the special session.The House, led by moderate Republican Speaker Joe Straus, has not shown the same sense of urgency. Straus has opposed the bathroom bill, worried that it will hurt the Texas economy and subject already vulnerable Texans to further harm. The measure stalled in the House during the regular session.   Continue reading...

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