Where do key bills stand in the Texas Legislature?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants special session over 3 failed bills
The bills, including the trans student ban in school sports, failed to pass the House. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick now wants another go at passing them.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is asking Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session in June to pass three bills that died in the house Tuesday night, including Senate Bill 29, which is a controversial bill aimed to restrict the participation of transgender student athletes in school sports.

The three bills failed to pass before the deadline.

READ MORE: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants special session over 3 failed bills

Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science at the University of Houston, told Eyewitness News Abbott would have to consider a number of risks before approving for a special session in June.

"Special sessions are expensive," Rottinghaus said. "It means you are going to have to spend more than a million dollars to keep everybody there, and they can be pretty politically fraught. This is definitely a time where you're going to see peak partisanships, so it's going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out."

Abbott would also have to determine if the debate on the three conservative bills is worth dragging out.

The widely debated SB 29 would mandate transgender athletes to play on sports teams based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their gender identity.

READ MORE: Texas bill restricting transgender students' sports participation stalls in House

Rottinghaus said there is still a chance the bill could still be revived if a special session is approved by the governor.

"I don't see it coming back in the same form it's in," Rottinghaus said, "But obviously, it's a tremendous priority for the Republican Party, and you got leadership on the GOP that want to see it happen. So there's always a chance that it can come back in some shape or form."

ABC13 reached out to the Houston Federation of Teachers for a comment regarding SB 29.

President Jackie Anderson issued the following statement.

"HFT members are pleased that this harmful and discriminatory bill did not move forward last night. We will continue to oppose this bill and other bills that make transgender students feel unwelcome or unsafe in our public schools. This year has been challenging for all Houston families and we need to focus on supporting students, not passing laws that discriminate against them.

We hope the legislature we spend its limited time moving forward providing schools more resources to our schools. We need to lower class sizes, increase mentoring opportunities and wraparound services to support student learning."

Meanwhile, Houston ISD parent Allison Newport has been following the Texas Legislative session, focusing mainly on the bills that could significantly impact public education and her children.

"I've been pretty frustrated in the bills that have been going forward," Newport said. "I just think that it's really important to give students the tools that they need to grow a love of learning, not necessarily just drills on standardized test taking and empowering our teachers to be great instructors."

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Longtime Houston lawmaker Harold Dutton is also pushing for a bill that addresses a longstanding legal battle involving HISD. The bill would pave the way for the state to intervene and takeover a public school district.

Newport believes it is a strong government overreach and does not reflect what Houston voters want to see changed.

"There's this narrative that most Texas voters want this and most school districts want to be able to be taken over. I think that's false," Newport said. "I think that it's important that we are letting our elected officials know that democracy is important to us as Texans, and government overreach has no place in our schools."

Rottinghaus said another top priority for Republican lawmakers is Senate Bill 7, which will change how and when Texans can vote.

The bill is currently in a conference committee after the Texas House made some changes including allowing drive-thru and 24-hour voting, which was banned in the original bill.

"Small details, but significant in a way because this is something that some Texas counties were experimenting with," Rottinghaus said.

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