Special Session Needs a Peacemaker, But It Probably Won't Be Gov. Greg Abbott

AUSTIN — Three weeks from the start of a special legislative session in which Texas lawmakers have just 30 days to pass 20 bills, the state’s Republican leadership is in essentially the same place it was when the regular session ended in spectacularly bitter fashion.Without some mending of fences that burned amid intraparty warfare during the regular session, it’s unlikely the special one will end more successfully.“You could kind of expect the same outcome,” said longtime Democrat consultant Harold Cook. “Lack of consensus means no bill passes.”After spending most of the regular session sitting on the fence observing the lawmaking game, the governor is taking the field for the special session that starts next month.Abbott has demanded solutions from lawmakers, telling them he wants them to come back to Austin on July 18 with cooler heads. And he's already begun doling out assignments to legislators.In recent public statements, though, he seems more focused on fanning the flames of GOP division than on mending fences. And why would he take on the difficult role of peacemaker? Whether he leads lawmakers to the compromises it will take to accomplish his agenda, or digs into the warring GOP trenches with them, Abbott is unlikely to face consequences at the ballot box. The governor was forced to call a special session after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stymied a bill that would have ensured the continued operation of several critical state agencies, including the board that licenses and oversees doctors. Patrick killed that measure because the House, under Speaker Joe Straus, rebuffed two of the lieutenant governor’s pet issues: the “bathroom bill” and one that aimed to restrict property tax growth.  Continue reading...

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