AUSTIN — We’re back! Welcome to a special edition of The Dallas Morning News‘ weekly political preview: The Look Ahead.
On Tuesday, state politicos will descend on Austin for a special session of the Texas Legislature. Why are they coming back at the height of the heat-induced summer doldrums? In part because they failed to pass a critical bill during the regular session that would keep alive several state agencies, including one that licenses doctors. Many Capitol observers place the blame on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who torpedoed the legislation in an effort to force a special session on property-tax legislation and the so-called bathroom bill.
During the 30-day special session — which will probably cost more than $1 million — lawmakers can only consider items that Gov. Greg Abbott has placed on the agenda. That includes legislation keeping alive state agencies, the bathroom bill, property tax cuts, school vouchers, pay raises for teachers, pre-empting local regulations and abortion restrictions, among others.
Patrick has praised the agenda, while House Speaker Joe Straus has compared it to a pile of manure.
Mark your calendars
The Texas Public Policy Foundation will conduct a policy orientation ahead of the special session on Monday starting at 11 a.m. Patrick and Abbott are expected to be speak. Follow along with @BrandiGrissom on Twitter.
State business and tourism leaders will hold a news conference on the south steps of the Capitol at 11 a.m. Monday. They are expected to voice their opposition to bathroom bills, which critics say discriminate against transgender Texans. @lmcgaughy will have updates.
A rally for public schools also will take place on the Capitol’s south steps at 1:30 p.m. Monday. The event is sponsored by several public school advocacy groups, including the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, Pastors For Texas Children, and Friends of Texas Public Schools, among others. Follow @RobertTGarrett for updates.
And on Tuesday, IBM and other business leaders will be lobbying legislators about the bathroom bill, which they say will hurt Texas companies.
In case you missed it
Nearly half of Abbott’s special session agenda includes proposals to clamp down on what he calls “a patchwork quilt of regulations” and local government spending. In a preview of the session, @RobertTGarrett writes: “from taxing to tree-cutting to texting while driving, Abbott’s agenda for the overtime gathering amounts to a harsh rebuke of Texas cities.” Check out the report to make sense of the growing tension between the state government and Texas cities, and the impending legislative fireworks over local control.
On Thursday, Patrick proposed giving millions of dollars in longevity bonuses to teachers, increasing funding for the retired school employees’ health plans and phasing out “Robin Hood” wealth transfers between school districts. Patrick said the teacher raise would be funded, in large part, by passing a constitutional amendment that would dedicate the first $700 million collected from the state lottery to teacher bonuses. The lottery money is directed to school districts but not necessarily used for teacher salaries.
North Texas families with transgender kids are coming together to support one another and wage “war” against the controversial bathroom bill. Read profiles of a few of the families here.
Abbott announced Friday in San Antonio that he’s running for re-election. A dogged fundraiser, the Republican entered the year with a cash balance of more than $34.4 million in his election coffers. No major Democrats have stepped up to challenge Abbott, and if any do, they would have their work cut out for them.
By the numbers
As of 5 p.m. Friday, 150 House bills and 30 Senate bills had been filed.