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Governor Calls State Lawmakers Back to Austin Starting Oct. 9

- Third Special Session Will Focus on Public Education

The third special session of the Texas Legislature is set to convene Oct. 9 pursuant to a proclamation issued by Governor Greg Abbott that will include Abbott’s plan to award state tax dollars reserved for public education to families who prefer sending their children to private schools.

State lawmakers have been battling over the idea all year, with the House rejecting the push from Abbott and the Texas Senate where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been actively advancing the proposal.

The idea needs majority support in both chambers which Patrick has secured in the Senate, but it’s opposed by all Democrats and several Republicans in the House where at least 86 members are on record against the Abbott-Patrick effort. Another 52 are on record in support, while 11 others remained silent on the question during a pivotal House budget vote in April.

Abbott has vowed to call another special session if the Legislature doesn’t acquiesce and, if that fails, to recruit and fund challengers to House Republicans who disagree with him on the issue in the upcoming March primary elections.

The effort has the backing of religiously devout Texas billionaires who are among the most generous donors in Republican Party circles.

Already, two House Republicans who oppose Abbott’s private school funding plan have announced plans not to run for re-election next year, including Reps. Four Price of Amarillo and John Raney of Bryan.

Other Issues Likely

Abbott will likely add other issues to the special session call, including several measures he vetoed in June while the first special session was underway.

He noted in many of his veto messages then that he was not opposed to the measures, but he deemed them less important than other matters he was advancing and, therefore, more appropriate to be dealt with at a later time.

One of those issues is important to Radio broadcasters, a clarification that Radio stations are permitted to take costs of goods sold into consideration when calculating their state franchise tax liability.

The measure is being carried by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, and in the regular session garnered unanimous support in both chambers with no opposition testimony in either of the two committee hearings held during the process.

A special session may last no more than 30 days, so lawmakers could be in Austin through the first week of December if Abbott calls two sessions back-to-back and they run out the clock on both sessions.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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