TX Democrats aim to 'do what's best for constituents' during special session

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Thursday, July 8, 2021
Texas lawmakers returning Thursday for special session
Texas lawmakers head back Thursday for a special legislative session. After breaking quorum, Democrats said they plan to show up, but will they stay?

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- After leaving the statehouse in May, Democrats plan to return to the special session, but they may not stay there.

The fight over several controversial issues, including election integrity, transgender youths in sports, and critical race theory will take center stage Thursday at the statehouse. The date and agenda are set, the question now is, will Democrats be there?

SEE ALSO: Power grid not among issues prioritized by Gov. Abbott for Texas special session agenda

"Are we going to show up (Thursday)? We're going to see what happens," State Rep. John Bucy said. "But, yes, the option to break quorum is always on the table."

Texas Democrats left a couple of months ago, as lawmakers debated an elections integrity bill. They worry it'll make it harder to vote, but Republicans argue the bill is needed to protect votes.

SEE ALSO: Texas Dems walk, stop GOP's sweeping voting restrictions

Democrats told ABC13 they'll be there to see what's in the bill and to voice their concerns.

"After that, I have to do what's best for my constituents, and what's best for the state of Texas," State Rep. Art Fierro explained. "I absolutely will participate on July 8."

Meanwhile, Republicans are bracing for the possibility of another walkout.

"While it's already happened once where they broke quorum, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that they're going to stay the entire time and we're going to complete this special session in a way, I think, Texans expect us too," State Rep. Jacey Jetton said.

"That never wins because Texans expect people to come to work and do their job, and that's what will happen at the end of the day," State Sen. Paul Bettencourt said.

If Democrats walk away, they face the possibility of staffers not getting paid. In June, Gov. Greg Abbott cut their pay from the budget and lawmakers are expected to address it.

The session could last 30 days. With 11 items on the agenda, lawmakers expect to use nearly every day. The question is, what happens if Democrats leave?

SEE ALSO: Texas House Democrats and legislative staffers take Gov. Abbott to court for defunding Legislature

"If there's a walkout, I believe a second special session just like that," Bettencourt explained.

"What we're doing is trying to buy more time here," Bucy explained. "We're in the minority in Texas, but that doesn't mean we're a silent majority and we're not going to be pushed around." The special session is expected to start at 10 a.m. Thursday.

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