AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott appeared live on our KRIS News at 5 p.m. with anchor Seth Kovar.
Kovar asked Abbott about several topics lawmakers are discussing at the special session in Austin, including voting, critical race theory, bail reform and border security funding.
Abbott also discussed the delta variant of COVID-19 that has led to the return of some restrictions in communities like Austin recently.
Here is a transcript of Abbott's interview with Kovar.
Abbott's thoughts on the delta variant:
"Obviously any time anybody contracts COVID, we’re concerned about it and we want to work collaboratively with the state as well as local agencies to make sure we get people vaccinated. As most people know, those who get vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines probably are most likely protected from the delta variant. That’s why we worked to make sure people had access to vaccines. One thing I did work on with your leaders including your mayor there in Corpus Christi was a program called Save Our Seniors where we focused on making sure our seniors received a vaccine. It proved very effective. In the state of Texas, more than 80 percent of our seniors as well as 70 percent of those aged 50 to 65 have received a vaccine. What that means is the likelihood of people contracting COVID and being hospitalized with the delta variant are extremely low. But it just shows the importance of getting a vaccination because they are so readily available."
Abbott on the Texas voting bill:
"With regard to the voting bill, it’s already passed out of the Texas Senate and it will pass out of the Texas House as soon as the Democrats who have taken this taxpayer-paid junket to Washington, D.C., get back to work and do the job they were elected to do. You know, if your audience, if they left their job and decided to take a trip to Washington, D.C., they would lose their pay and they may lose their job. And that likely is what is going to happen to some of these Democrats who have abandoned their responsibility and not stepping up. I’ve got to tell you about one horrendous incident that has happened because of the Democrats’ failure to show up. One of the items that you mentioned that’s on the special session call is bail reform. It’s important that you know that during the time that we’ve been in session and the Democrats left during the regular session there have been five murders that have taken place by people who were out on bail who should have been behind bars. This bail reform needs to be fixed quickly. The longer the Democrats hold out and don’t pass bail reform the more lives like that will be at risk."
Should the Democrats be arrested for their actions of fleeing the state and dragged back to Texas to face justice?
"Well, the way the program works is that is when there is a break of the quorum, the House can pass what’s called a call on the house. What that means is that law enforcement is empowered to apprehend those who are not in attendance in the House of Representatives and bring them to the House of Representatives. And so, the jurisdiction for law enforcement to do that ends at the state line, but when the House members come back they are expected to show up in the Texas House and do the business they were hired to do. If they didn’t want to be a representative, they shouldn’t have run for office. But because they did run for office so they are representatives, they have to step up and do their constitutional duty. And if they don’t, that means the Texas Department of Public Safety will go find them wherever they may be located in the state of Texas and bring them to the House of Representatives and have to force them to do the job that they ran to do in the first place."
What would you like to see at the Mexican border, in terms of the wall you’d like to get financed?
"I’ll be down there on Saturday and last weekend I was working with sheriffs who represent counties along the border. The sheriffs are overwhelmed with the number of people who are coming into their communities and the damages and harm that are caused by people who are coming across the border. So we are working to assist these sheriffs and one of the items we have on the legislative agenda is to provide funding to these counties who are being overrun by the open-border policies of the Biden Administration. One of the things we are working with these sheriffs on is to arrest people coming across the border who are trespassing, who are engaging in vandalism, any type of crime like that. They are subject to being arrest based on Texas penalty and serving time in Texas jails. And we are working in collaboration with state and local law enforcement to enforce the law here in the Lone Star State."
His thoughts on Mayor Paulette Guajardo’s aim to bring more tech industries to Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. Is that a priority and what do you see in the future?
"I did talk to the Mayor and the fact is that Corpus Christi obviously is a beautiful town and very strategically located. I view it as a prime spot for future economic development. You may know that Texas has ranked No. 1 in the United States for economic development. And every year that I’ve been governor we want to make sure we spread that wealth to every region across the entire state of Texas including the Coastal Bend and especially Corpus Christi."