Texas lawmakers were headed to Austin on Thursday for a special session. The meeting was supposed to focus on hot conservative priorities as well as the voting rights of the state.
A day before the special session, Governor Greg Abbott divulged an ambitious plan. Election integrity, bail reform, border security, social media censorship, transgender sports and critical race theory are among the focal areas Abbott wants lawmakers to focus on the session.
The special session comes after Texas House Democrats walked out in protest against the new bill that could revamp the state’s election laws.
The final version of SB 7, the bill that lawmakers failed to pass in May, provides an indication of what lawmakers are going to focus on. The bill would have provided for setting up limits for early hour voting, banned drive-through vote, added new requirements for mail voting and made it a crime for officials who send unsolicited absentee ballot applications.
As Abbott is said to be eyeing presidential elections, this special session could augment his conservative credentials ahead of the polls and strengthen his reported presidential bid in 2024.
The Assembly special session also includes funding for the state legislature and its staff. Abbott had vetoed the funding last month after Democrats staged a protest and walked out of the house. Texas Democrats and other organizations have urged the Supreme Court to override the veto, but the court is yet to consider it.
One crucial item not on the agenda: State’s electric grid crisis, which struggled to produce required electricity during heavy snowfall.
This year, voting rights and election reforms have been one of the top political issues. State lawmakers around the country mulled hundreds of bills to amend election laws. Georgia, Florida and Iowa were among the states that passed some of the most high-profile changes.
The Justice Department sued Georgia over its new voting law in June. The Supreme Court maintained that the voting laws in Arizona do not violate provisions of the Voting Rights Act.