Gov. Abbott calls for special legislative session, signs texting while driving ban

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called for a special legislative session this summer. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called for a special legislative session this summer.

The primary goal of the special session, which will begin on July 18, is to pass so-called sunset legislation that failed to pass during the regular session. Namely, Abbott cited the Texas Medical Board, which would not be able to license new doctors without the passage of additional legislation.

To ensure their passage, the sunset bills will be the only items on the legislative agenda during the special session until they pass the Senate, a process that Abbott said should take three days.

"Unfortunately, it was used as political fodder during the political session rather than the must-pass legislation that it is," Abbott said.

After the sunset bills pass the Senate, Abbott named 19 other legislative priorities that will be presented to lawmakers, including education finance reform, abortion reform, voter fraud, school choice for special needs students, property tax reform, and reduction of local government's ability to over-regulate, among other issues.

"Some local governments, like the city of Austin, are doing everything they can to over-regulate. In the process, they are stifling our economy, interfering with job creation and undermining local property rights," Abbott insisted.

Abbott also recommitted to making Texas the first state since North Carolina to restrict bathroom access for transgender people, saying Texas needs a law that "protects the privacy of our children" in public schools.

Gov. Abbott signs texting while driving ban into law

The governor said that he had hoped the statewide ban on texting and driving, which he signed into law Tuesday, would preempt cities and counties from regulating the use of mobile devices on the road. The legislative session will address the "patchwork quilt of local regulations" regarding cell phone use across the state.

Texas will join at least 47 other states that have similar laws when the ban takes effect Sept. 1. Texting would be punishable by a fine of up to $99 for first-time offenders and $200 for repeat offenses. The ban covers texting only, not other Internet use such as map applications.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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