Special Session Edition: Election Integrity and Bail Reform

June 30, 2021

On Thursday, July 8th, the Texas Legislature will convene our first special session following the 87th Regular Legislative Session which ended on May 31st.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared with you the many accomplishments of the recent legislative session but I also mentioned there was much work left undone.  Over the next week, I’d like to discuss the announced agenda for the special session, as well as other subject matter I’d like to see added.   

A “special session” is very different than a constitutionally called “regular session” like the one that just adjourned in May.  A special session can only be “called” by the governor and the maximum duration for a special session is 30 days.  The governor declares what policy issues/session topics are on the call and we are limited to working on just those topics.  The governor can enumerate all topics at the onset or gradually add to the call while the legislature is convened.  There is not a limit on how many special sessions can be called and they can be called back-to-back.   

Governor Abbott has not issued an official proclamation of topics.  However, based on his public statements we know will be covering election integrity, bail reform, Critical Race Theory, redistricting and allocating federal funds appropriated to states through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.  Both redistricting and the federal funding will be addressed in the fall at a subsequent special session. 

ICYMI: Both the omnibus election integrity bill (SB7) and the bail reform bill (HB 20/HJR) died on the House calendar in May when House democrats left the House chamber breaking the quorum.  (The Texas Constitution requires that 2/3 of the 150 House members be present to conduct business.  Republicans have only an eight vote majority.)

Quorum busting is an inappropriate tactic that has been used on rare occasion to kill legislation.  In 2003, the House democrats, knowing they did not have the votes to stop a bill, left during the night and stayed in Oklahoma for weeks.  The next month, the Senate democrats broke quorum and spent weeks in New Mexico.  So, bottom line, there is no guarantee that the democrats won’t bust the quorum again to stop the election integrity bill from passing.

The following is a summary of what Republicans legislators hope to accomplish on election integrity this upcoming special session.  I’ve also included a graphic on the efforts to reform the criminal bail system.  In my next email (and FB post) I’ll share my thoughts on Critical Race Theory and the need for legislation barring it from our schools. 

Election Integrity

The overall goal is simply to ensure that in Texas it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.  The bill components will likely include: 

Bail Reform