Could we see another Democratic walkout during Texas' 3rd special legislative session?

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Thursday, September 9, 2021
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This political year has been the longest in modern Texas history and there's a lot on the table for lawmakers, but could there be another Democratic walkout?

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas lawmakers have been on the clock for nearly 200 days in 2021, but the next few weeks could be the most crucial.

In addition, they hope the third legislative session will be the charm.

"We got to get the job done," said Texas Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) "That's really what these special sessions have been about."

This political year has been the longest in modern Texas history. It's possible lawmakers will meet for nearly 90 days beyond the regular session.

"It's not necessarily about the number of days that they've been in session, it's about what they're debating and what they're fighting," said co-executive director of the Texas Democratic party, Jamarr Brown.

The next session starts Monday, Sept. 20, and Gov. Greg Abbott has already set the agenda. There are controversial issues including transgender youth in sports and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

READ ALSO: Texas redistricting: Why the person you voted for in 2020 could change next year

Experts said the spotlight will be on COVID relief and who represents you in terms of redistricting.

"That's where all the attention and focus will be," said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University. "That will be the first item up. They will likely try to get that done before they deal with the issues of how to divide up that $16 billion in COVID money."

The U.S. Census delayed numbers because of the pandemic. Every 10 years, lawmakers use the data to create districts for state House, Senate, and U.S. representatives.

"I want Houston to succeed," Bettencourt said. "I think my colleagues want Houston to succeed, and I think that's why we're going to have a successful redistricting."

However, everything could come to a halt if Texas Democrats leave the state again.

"We will always use every tool that we can as possible," Brown said. "We're committed as a Democratic party to ensure we have fair maps and fair districts."

The other item that could impact you is the COVID relief money. Democrats want to see it used for booster shots.

"We need to also figure out how to put some of those resources into virtual learning options," Brown said.

Republicans are eyeing the money to provide property tax relief.

"We have to be very careful about spending this money, because it's one time," Bettencourt said.

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