Legislators might be going a little overboard when it comes to the bill filing process for the special session.
During the 30 day special session, the Texas Legislature can only hear bills that relate to the 20 items Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda. The bills dealing with issues on Abbott’s list are all going to have public hearings in the Senate over a three-day working weekend beginning at 8 a.m. Friday.
But 435 pieces of legislation have been filed by lawmakers as of Thursday afternoon. It’s safe to say not all of them fit under Abbott’s call.
Representative Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, filed House Bill 85 July 10, which would legalize medical marijuana in Texas.
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During the regular session, Lucio filed a similar bill, HB 2107, that received bipartisan support, but it eventually died after failing to be approved on time.
“In this time of divisive politics, we have found bipartisan agreement that the well-being of our loved ones suffering from debilitating conditions should rise over the fray of Left and Right,” Lucio wrote in a letter following the death of HB 2107. “We will continue to fight for the patients suffering in Texas who could benefit from medical cannabis.”
One of the 85th legislative session’s most controversial bill, Senate Bill 4 or the sanctuary cities bill, is facing an immediate, but likely futile, challenge.
Representative Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth, filed HB 53, which would immediately repeal SB4. Romero was a staunch opponent of SB 4 during the regular session and was involved in a scuffle on the House floor in May over the bill.
Legislators attempting to repeal bills from the regular session is a theme this special session.
Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, filed HB 237, which would undo the 85th Texas Legislature’s elimination of straight-party voting through HB 25.
In May, Turner told the Texas Tribune HB 25 could lead to lower voter turnout in future elections.
“There are a lot of races on the ballot in these general elections, and voting individually takes extra time,” Turner told the Tribune. “Instead of one-punch, you’re asking people to individually vote in dozens of races, perhaps even 100 of them. This can be a real impediment.”
One of the quirkier bills filed during the special session is Representative Pat Fallon’s, R-Denton, HB 216. The bill would create a tax free weekend, not for school supplies, but for hunting supplies.
The sale would occur the last full weekend of August. Hunting season for many types of wild game in Texas kicks off in the fall, making the tax break perfectly timed for Texans preparing to hunt.
Some of the bills are less exciting, but still just as unlikely to make it to the Governor’s desk.
HB 222, again by Fallon, would make it a criminal offense for former legislators to lobby to the state government.
Although these bills don’t currently fit under Abbott’s call, the Governor can update his agenda to include bills as he sees fit. There’s always hope, but, with already limited time, it’s a long-shot.