Courtesy Photo / Office of the Governor
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a recent news conference.
Get ready for a special legislative session long on attempts to curb voting restrictions and fan the flames of the culture war.
On Wednesday, a day ahead of this summer's special session of the Texas Legislature, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled the agenda for the gathering, which reads like wish list for conservative lawmakers.
The 11 issues include a resurrection of the GOP-backed "election integrity" bill that died during the end of the last session when Democrats walked out in protest. Voting-rights advocates decried the controversial measure, saying it targets people of color in a bid to suppress votes for Democratic candidates.
Also on Abbott's agenda are measures that would curb the teaching of critical race theory in schools, punish social media companies for "censoring" conservative viewpoints and bar transgender student athletes from competing on teams that correspond to their gender identity.
"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,” Abbott said in an emailed statement.
The governor's list also includes funding for the legislative branch, which he vetoed last month to punish Democrats for their walkout. Democrats have since sued, arguing the veto amounts to an unconstitutional power grab.
Progressive groups blasted Abbott's agenda, saying it does little to remedy problems faced by ordinary Texans, including the state's high uninsured rate and continued problems with its electrical grid. They said its last-minute release signals Abbott's eagerness to sneak through an unpopular agenda.
“While the delay of the special session’s agenda is inexcusable, its contents are even more appalling," said Zenén Jaimes Pérez, deputy director of MOVE Texas Action Fund, which advocates for young voters. "In a few short months, young Texans faced a crumbling power grid, unemployment, and the continuing pandemic. Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick are wasting Texans’ time and money in another attempt to restrict our rights and manipulate the system for their own gain."
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