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Fourth Special Session Brews as Texas Lieutenant Governor, GOP Chairman Press Abbott

October 21, 2021 by Reece Nations
In this Tuesday, June 30, 2009 photo, The south side of the Capitol and its surrounding grounds are shown in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck, File)

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was joined by Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, on Wednesday in calling for yet another special legislative session to pass more conservative agenda items.

The calls for a new special session come after Texas’ most recent special session came to a close early Tuesday morning. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott convened the session to redraw legislative and Congressional districts, appropriate American Rescue Plan Act funding and pass a property tax relief bill.

Patrick signaled his desire for a fourth special session on Twitter while calling for felony penalties to be added for illegal voting and for the state House of Representatives to pass an election audit bill. Rinaldi followed suit by issuing a press release underscoring his support for the move while adding bans on vaccine mandates and “gender modification” to the list of proposed agenda items.

“We commend the Texas Legislature and Governor for delivering numerous significant and substantive conservative victories this year,” Rinaldi said in a written statement. “But more needs to be done. We support Governor Abbott calling the legislature back to address these issues.”

Republican lawmakers finally succeeded in their push to pass a bill targeting transgender student athletes after failing in the regular session and both of the previous special sessions. Further, Abbott’s executive order prohibiting state or local governmental entities from issuing vaccine mandates is still in effect even without underpinning legislation.

Stiffer penalties for illegal voting were originally part of the agenda for the third special session but ended up being lowered to a class A misdemeanor in the version of the bill approved by the House. Abbott had already signed the legislature’s sweeping elections bill into law before reversing course and asking lawmakers to increase the penalties in the latest session.

In response, Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, said the House would not take up the issue again with the new law set to take effect in December. It is ultimately up to Abbott to call another session to order, and the governor has yet to officially announce one.

Texas Democrats have offered fervent rebukes of their Republican colleagues’ agenda while maintaining they are shirking opportunities to strengthen the state’s power grid in time for winter and failing to secure health care for millions in the state by not expanding Medicaid since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act. Texas has both the highest number and the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the nation according to the state comptroller’s office.

“For the fourth time this year, Texans are watching their lawmakers wrap up a legislative session that had nothing to do with Texas’ biggest issues and everything to do with advancing Greg Abbott’s political career,” Texas Democratic Party Co-Executive Director Jamarr Brown said in a written statement. “Texas Republicans spent the last month making life harder for kids and gerrymandering Black and Brown Texans out of their rightful voting power — because clearly, Republican politicians are perfectly happy to put kids in danger and silence voters if it helps them win elections.” 

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