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Abbott Sets Second Special Session Start Date And Expands Agenda

Headshot of Greg Abbott with flag in the background.
Eric Gay
Gov. Greg Abbott released a 17-item agenda for the second 2021 Special Legislative Session.

It starts right on the heels of the first special session set to end Friday.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced noon Saturday will be when the next special session of the state Legislature starts.

In a press release Thursday, Abbott reiterated his promise to “call special session after special session” until his agenda items are accomplished.

The session's agenda includes items both old and new. Bail reform and election integrity are at the top, as they were in July. Texas House Democrats fled to Washington, D.C. last month to break quorum and prevent passage of a bill tightening rules around voting, empowering partisan poll watchers, and further criminalizing voting errors.

Abbott again wants legislation to boost law enforcement at the Texas-Mexico border, restrict abortion-inducing drugs and appropriate money to the legislative branch. He vetoed these “Article X” funds earlier this year as retribution against Democrats for breaking quorum at the end of the regular session.

New items include appropriating unspent money for COVID-19 relief. The governor also has an agenda item to alter “the filing periods and related election dates, including any runoffs, for primary elections held in Texas in 2022."

After this second special session, lawmakers will have at least one more to redraw legislative district boundaries. The U.S. Census Bureau said it will release detailed demographic data used in that process on August 12.

Rep. David Cook (R-Mansfield) said he was hoping Abbott would wait until Monday to call the session, so he could travel home from Austin to see his family. But he wasn't surprised at the announcement.

"I totally understand why he's fulfilling his prior commitment," Cook said. "It's exactly what I expected the governor to do."

Compromise with the House Democrats is unlikely. Abbott is up for reelection next year and has two far right primary challengers.

Minutes before Abbott’s release, state House Democrats announced a Friday press conference coinciding with the end of the first special session to celebrate what they called a “victory” in stopping the voting bill.

But with a new session starting Saturday and a voting bill again on the agenda, it’s unclear how long Democratic members can remain away from their homes and regular jobs in their bid to stop it.

Got a tip? Email Bret Jaspers at You can follow Bret on Twitter @bretjaspers.

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Bret Jaspers is a reporter for KERA. His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s newsmagazines, and APM’s Marketplace. He collaborated on the series Cash Flows, which won a 2020 Sigma Delta Chi award for Radio Investigative Reporting. He's a member of Actors' Equity, the professional stage actors union.