Texas legislators are back in Austin this week to finish out the “people’s business” before they adjourn until 2019.
Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation officially calling lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session of the Legislature.
What’s so special about it, you ask?
We’re wondering that, too.
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Other than the must-pass “sunset” legislation that will keep several critical government agencies running, there isn’t much on the agenda we expect, or need, to see addressed right now.
A special session can last up to 30 days — contingent on the level of ambition and agreement among its participants — and legislators are only supposed to consider topics specifically laid out by the governor.
Abbott’s list includes issues like the “bathroom bill,” clearly included to mollify his more strident colleagues, and other proposals to satisfy his own priorities, like protecting private property from city regulations.
Some of Abbott’s items are not altogether bad ideas.
He wants the Legislature to find ways to reduce maternal mortality rates, which are on the rise to a disturbing degree in the Lone Star State.
He also wants lawmakers to tackle mail-in ballot voter fraud, to address the state’s troubled school finance system and to raise salaries for teachers.
And, of course, he wants property tax reform, because, well, this is Texas.
If the special session is anything like the most recent regular session — which was waylaid early by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s bathroom crusade, and ended in a near fist fight on the House floor — our best guess is that lawmakers will leave Abbott’s list largely undone.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
One thing the Legislature must do before it breaks, though, is pass the “sunset” bill, which never made it to the governor’s desk during regular session.
If legislators fail, state agencies that did not receive approval under the state’s Sunset Advisory Commission — including the Texas Medical Board — would be forced to shut down.
No one thinks that’s a good idea.
Hopefully, legislators will get that passed.
If that’s all they do, we’ll take it.