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Sine Die Another Day?

Policy Analyst

If you’ve been sad that the 85th legislative session is ending, boy do we have good news for you. The governor called a special session, so all you session junkies can continue watching LegeTV, tweeting @TXImpact and #txlege, and getting lost in the strange universe housed in the pink granite building on Congress Ave.

But what makes a special session special? There are three key differences between a regular session and a special session.

First, only the governor may call a special session. A governor may call the legislature to special session at any time and for any reason, however, the governor must state the purpose of the special session in the proclamation.

Second, the Legislature cannot discuss any issue that is not on the governor’s “call.” For example, if the governor convened a special session for the Legislature on school finance, then the Legislature could not consider legislation about prisons. However, there are no limitations on the number of topics a Governor can designate in a special session proclamation, and a governor may expand "the call" to include additional topics at any time.

Third, unlike the 140-day regular legislative session mandated by the Texas Constitution, a special session of the Legislature is limited to a maximum of 30 days. However, there is no limit on the number of special sessions that the governor can convene. For instance, a Governor can call the Legislature back into another special session immediately upon the conclusion of the previous special session's 30 days.

It is important to remember that legislators get a per diem of $150 while in regular and special sessions. So one special session lasting 30 days would cost taxpayers around $800,000. Just something to bear in mind. Now go watch LegeTV.


For a complete list of all the special sessions of the Texas Legislature, click here.

The Legislative Reference Library online also has a very informative FAQ page here.

The Texas Tribune has a great interactive tool to see what was discussed at each special session called from 1971 to now, click here.