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Legislature wraps up, special session begins

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Latest

Legislators gaveled out of their regular session Monday, May 29, only to learn of a special session 12 hours later.

The 88th Legislative Session reached sine die May 29, but lawmakers began a special session at 9 p.m. with a focus on property tax relief and border security. The 88th Legislature opened Jan. 10.

“We must cut property taxes,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement calling the special session. “Texans want and need a path towards eliminating property taxes. The best way to do that is to direct property tax reduction dollars to cut school property tax rates.” 

Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson, said a lot of work was completed during the 140-day regular session, but there are still issues she and other lawmakers want to address.

“While the 88th session brought some big wins for Texas, there is still work to be done,” Chen Button said. “I anticipate the Governor calling an additional special session to address school finance and I look forward to passing meaningful policy to improve outcomes for our young Texans.”

One of the major events of the legislative session came near the end as 12 appointed House impeachment managers delivered 20 articles of impeachment for Attorney General Ken Paxton to the Texas Senate. The Senate has since appointed a 12-member panel to establish rules for a trial expected to begin in the summer.

Senators will deliver the framework for the trial no later than June 20 with a trial set to begin by the end of August.

Senate Bill 18, which focused on eliminating tenure at public universities failed to garner enough support in the House as written. The bill was a priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who accused universities of “stoking societal division” and professors for being above the law.

The bill passed through the Legislature without eliminating tenure although universities will be required to enumerate how they grant tenure, the evaluation process for tenured faculty and detailed reasons why a tenured professor can be terminated.

Senate Bill 17, which focused on banning diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offices at public universities, passed the Legislature. Programs and training for DEI would also be outlawed under the law that could become the second in the United States if signed into law.

Senate Bill 15 also focused on restricting transgender athletes and forcing them to compete in their assigned sex will likely become law. The bill focused on dialogue centered around providing a level playing field for college athletes, namely in women’s sports.

All three bills have made it to Gov. Abbott’s desk.

Another closely watched bill during the session was Senate Bill 14, which would ban puberty blockers and hormone treatments for children who may want to undergo a gender transition. Provisions in the bill apply to individuals younger than 18 years old and also apply to any transition surgeries, although those cases are rare.

Several groups have indicated that they intend to challenge the bill in court if it becomes law. Senate Bill 14 is currently sitting on the governor’s desk.

For the full story, see the June 8 issue of The Sachse News.

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