The Texas Legislature in Austin finished up its third special session and passed through several laws. A few of Governor Greg Abbott’s laws did not pass.
Key issues passed were on Texas redistricting, the controversial Transgender Sports Bill, and a last-minute bill to lower property taxes.
Redistricting leads to a new map
Governor Abbott will get the new Texas congressional map that the Texas House and Senate signed off on Monday night. This locks in an overwhelming Republican majority for a decade. The plan doesn’t reflect the state’s population growth that was powered by minority residents but protects incumbents.
Maps passed and sent to Abbott would give the GOP a comfortable edge in the Texas House, Senate, and State Board of Education. All the maps are likely to face legal challenges.
The vote for the new map was mostly along party lines and allocates 24 of 38 U.S. House seats to the GOP. Two new seats are from the growth in the Hispanic population.
Transgender sports bill
In previous sessions, the transgender sports bill failed in previous sessions. The bill going to Governor Abbott restricts transgender athletes from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.
Lower property taxes
Property tax relief was a top priority for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
The Senate Finance Committee voted 13-0 vote on Senate Joint Resolution 2. This constitutional amendment would increase the homestead exemption on school taxes to $40,000, from $25,000. The House and Senate approved the plan unanimously.
Additionally, the House and Senate passed $13 billion in appropriations from federal COVID-19 spending, tuition revenue bonds to allow universities to construct new facilities, and new penalties for tethering dogs outside.
Senator Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, said lawmakers from both chambers had agreed Senate Bill 5 would let law enforcement officials take immediate action to help dogs. Law enforcement is allowed to bypass the mandated 24-hour waiting period to ensure dogs have adequate shelter in extreme weather.
Abbott didn’t get his way on these bills
Abbott wanted bills to prohibit private and government entities in the state from mandating COVID-19 vaccines. This issue the governor asked lawmakers to handle when he issued an executive order banning the mandates.
“At the moment it’s not too well developed,” Seliger said of Senate Bill 51, which he called “anti-business.”
“I’ve got some real reservations because I think it’s another example of big government. And we don’t do that.”
The other two items on his agenda that the lawmakers didn’t pass include increased penalties for illegal voting and a constitutional amendment allowing courts to deny bail to defendants charged with a number of crimes.