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Sine Die Another Day?

Items on the governor's call:

Sunset Commission review of state agencies.

Average salary and benefits of Texas teachers; and legislation to provide a more flexible and rewarding salary and benefit system for Texas teachers.

Statewide commission to study and recommend improvements to the current public school finance system.

Special education vouchers

Property taxes

Spending limit for state government

Spending limit for political subdivisions

Repealing local tree ordinances

Legislation expediting the issuance of permits by political subdivisions and reforming the laws governing the issuance of permits by political subdivisions.

Legislation preventing political subdivisions from imposing on private property additional or enhanced regulations that did not exist at the time the property was acquired.

Annexation

Legislation preempting local regulation of the use of hand-held mobile communication devices while driving.

"Bathroom" legislation

Legislation prohibiting state or local government entities from deducting labor union or employee organization membership fees or dues from the wages of public employees.

Legislation prohibiting financial transactions between a governmental entity and an abortion provider or affiliate of the abortion provider.

Legislation restricting health plan and health benefit plan coverage for abortions.

Legislation strengthening the laws applicable to the reporting of abortions and abortion complications to the Department of State Health Services.

Legislation enhancing patient protections contained in the procedures and requirements for do-not-resuscitate orders.

Legislation enhancing the detection, prosecution, and elimination of mail-in ballot fraud.

Legislation continuing the operation and expanding the duties of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force to ensure action is taken to reduce the maternal mortality rate in Texas.

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.