Special Session of the Texas Legislature Convenes to Address Election Integrity Bills

Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Photo: Breitbart Texas/Bob Price

A special session of the Texas State Legislature convened on Thursday to address several unfinished legislative priorities of Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), including an election integrity bill that was thwarted in the last hours of the 2021 regular session by the walkout of Democratic State Legislators.

“The 87th Legislative Session was a monumental success for the people of Texas, but we have unfinished business to ensure that Texas remains the most exceptional state in America,” Gov. Abbott, who called for the special session, said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Abbott added:

Two of my emergency items, along with other important legislation, did not make it to my desk during the regular session, and we have a responsibility to finish the job on behalf of all Texans. These Special Session priority items put the people of Texas first and will keep the Lone Star State on a path to prosperity. I look forward to working with my partners in the Legislature to pass this legislation as we build a brighter future for all who call Texas home.

Abbott’s office released an agenda on Wednesday for the special session that included ten agenda items in addition to election integrity:

  • BAIL REFORM: Legislation reforming the bail system in Texas to protect the public from accused criminals who may be released on bail.

  • ELECTION INTEGRITY: Legislation strengthening the integrity of elections in Texas.

  • BORDER SECURITY: Legislation providing funding to support law-enforcement agencies, counties, and other strategies as part of Texas’ comprehensive border security plan.

  • SOCIAL MEDIA CENSORSHIP: Legislation safeguarding the freedom of speech by protecting social-media users from being censored by social-media companies based on the user’s expressed viewpoints, including by providing a legal remedy for those wrongfully excluded from a platform.

  • ARTICLE X FUNDING: Legislation providing appropriations to the Legislature and legislative agencies in Article X of the General Appropriations Act.

  • FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION: Legislation similar to Senate Bill 1109 from the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, requiring schools to provide appropriate education to middle- and high-school students about dating violence, domestic violence, and child abuse, but that recognizes the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction.

  • YOUTH SPORTS: Legislation identical to Senate Bill 29 as passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, disallowing a student from competing in University Interscholastic League athletic competitions designated for the sex opposite to the student’s sex at birth.

  • ABORTION-INDUCING DRUGS: Legislation similar to Senate Bill 394 from the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, which prohibits people from providing abortion-inducing drugs by mail or delivery service, strengthens the laws applicable to the reporting of abortions and abortion complications, and ensures that no abortion-inducing drugs are provided unless there is voluntary and informed consent.

  • THIRTEENTH CHECK: Legislation similar to House Bill 3507 from the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, relating to a “thirteenth check” or one-time supplemental payment of benefits under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

  • CRITICAL RACE THEORY: Legislation similar to House Bill 3979 concerning Critical Race Theory as originally passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular Session.

  • APPROPRIATIONS: Legislation providing appropriations from additional available general revenue for the following purposes: property-tax relief, enhanced protection for the safety of children in Texas’ foster-care system by attracting and retaining private providers for the system, and to better safeguard the state from potential cybersecurity threats

The announcement earlier this week by former Texas GOP chairman and former Florida Congressman Allen West that he is challenging governor Abbott in the 2022 republican gubernatorial primary adds another unanticipated element of drama to the special session. 

Texas is expected to become one of several red states that have passed comprehensive election integrity measures in 2021. The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last month that it is suing the state of Georgia, which passed the Election Integrity Act of 2021 in March, on charges that it violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination.

Under Attorney General Merrick Garland, the Biden administration’s DOJ is poised to sue every red state that has passed election integrity laws in 2021.

Last week the Supreme Court of the United States threw an obstacle into the DOJ’s litigation plans when it ruled in a six to three opinion, Brnovich v. the Democratic National Committee, that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is not violated by state election laws that simply are designed to prevent voter fraud. 

As part of that litigation, a federal district judge ruled on Wednesday against the DOJ’s motion for a temporary injunction to prohibit Georgia from enforcing key provisions of the Election Integrity Act of 2021.

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