With a special session in the house under way as of Tuesday, representatives from across the state are gathered in Austin for a 30-day period to discuss 20 agenda items as proposed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Abbott called the session back in June when the lawmakers failed to pass the “sunset” legislation, which jeopardizes many government agencies.
“As all of the other members in the house and senate, I will honor my obligation and work diligently over the next month to do as much as I can in regards to the governor’s agenda,” said Rep. Trent Ashby of District 57 on Friday. “I want these 20 items accomplished, especially the ‘sunset’ legislation.”
Without passage of the “sunset” legislation, medical establishments in the state of Texas would take a major blow. The legislature ended their meeting in May without extending the existence of the Texas Medical Board among other critical agencies. The Texas Medical Board is responsible for licensing doctors across the state.
Ashby is also hoping to make strides to assist educators in the state. One of the items on the governor’s lengthy agenda is a proposed $1,000 pay raise for teachers.
“Anything we can do to help our teachers is warranted,” said Ashby. “While many of us may differ on what that help might look like, I’m open to any ideas that reward our teachers. We need to enhance their pay.”
One of the main concerns Ashby hears about from his district is property tax relief. The representative believes that you can’t have a proposed tax relief without first discussing the school finance report. School finance is one of the 20 items listed on the session’s agenda.
“We need to continue reforming our school finance system,” said Ashby. “It’s important to provide our local officials with the opportunities to provide some tax relief.”
Voting fraud is another issue that will be discussed in Austin. Ashby believes they need to crack down on mail-in ballot fraud in order to protect the integrity of the voting box.
The Texas Constitution requires that lawmakers meet twice a year for 140 days. However, the governor can call a special session at any time. It will play out as a regular session except legislators only have 30 days to work and Abbott calls the shots.
In regular session, the chamber can discuss any item they choose. In special session, items that aren’t listed on the governor’s agenda are off limits.
According to the Legislative Research Library Records, there have been 119 special sessions called since 1850. This will be the first since 2013, called by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Perry called 12 special sessions during his 15-year tenure.
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