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Texas lawmakers head back to Austin for special session

Posted at 2:02 PM, Jul 07, 2021

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday issued a proclamation calling for an extraordinary session of the 87th legislature. The special session will last approximately 30 days. Abbott’s agenda includes the resumption of discussions related to Senate Bill 7, the voting bill over which House Democrats walked out of the regular session five weeks ago.

Backers call it a bill to “strengthen the integrity of elections in Texas.” Detractors call it a bill to restrict voting rights, especially for minorities in larger counties like Harris, Dallas, and Tarrant.

Nueces County Clerk Kara Sands says she doesn’t expect any change in the ability of people to vote in Nueces County.

“Our job is to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. That goes for everyone,” she said. “We’ve been able to do that effectively with the cooperation of both parties.”

Among other things, the voting bill would place I.D. requirements on mail-in ballots; ban drive-through voting; limit early voting hours on Sundays to 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.; set new rules for removing people from voter rolls; enhance poll watcher freedom; and require video recordings of vote counting.

Governor Abbott’s response to the walkout was to veto the appropriations bill of the legislative branch, a move that is now under judicial review to determine its constitutionality. If it stands, the paychecks for all staffers would cease on September 1.

“I think he was angry and acted without thinking it through,” said State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa in an interview with KRIS 6 news. “That’s the kind of thing that might work in some banana republic in South America or some Asian countries, but it’s really unheard of in America.”

Also on the agenda is a bail reform bill (House Bill 20) aimed at making it more difficult for violent offenders to be released pending trial. It would also restrict the ability of non-profit organizations to post bail for those accused of certain crimes.

Lawmakers will also re-visit the issue of banning critical race theory in Texas schools.

“That’s a moot point,” said Corpus Christi’s American Federation of Teachers President Dr. Nancy Vera. “We don’t teach critical race theory. The Governor wants to whitewash history. We want to teach the truth. Why must we skip things that actually happened? Why do we have to make everything look peachy when we know that the only way we’ve grown as a nation because of the mistakes and the trials and tribulations? That’s how we learn.”

The governor’s complete agenda is here.