Gov. Abbott launches media blitz to ride herd on special session


Gov. Greg Abbott will be making some 60 radio and TV appearances through next week.

The media blitz allows Abbott to boost his re-election campaign, and help shape the special session.

Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday launched a blitz of some 60 radio and TV appearances planned through next week to promote his bid for a second term, which he announced Friday, and to ride herd on the special legislative session that got underway Tuesday.

Abbott has promised a running public accounting of who’s with him and who’s against him on the 20 items on his special session agenda, and he told Scott DeLucia on WTAW-AM in College Station that the first of what DeLucia called his “naughty and nice” lists should come by week’s end. That will probably focus on gold stars for those legislators who authored or co-sponsored legislation on Abbott’s priorities.

Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said that the bill authors also would be invited to cut ads with the governor at the new TV studio at the governor’s campaign headquarters near the Capitol promoting their role in pressing the governor’s conservative midsummer agenda.

It is from that studio — and from his phone at the Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion — that Abbott will, through appearances on local media, offer blow-by-blow commentary to Texans and try to shape the progress of the session.

What to expect in the Texas special legislative session

On WTAW, Abbott was asked about transgender bathroom legislation, and his answer suggested that he is looking for a bill limited in its scope to schools that would bring uniformity to policies across the state.

Abbott said that from the founding of the Republic of Texas in 1836 until 2016, Texas had never had any problems with bathroom policies. But, he said, in the aftermath of instructions issued by the Obama administration in 2016 for schools to respect the gender identities of transgender students, schools had begun implementing a variety of different policies, and that even the Trump administration’s rescinding those instructions had left things confused and inconsistent.

A new law, he said, was needed to restore clarity and consistency.

On boosting teacher pay without increasing spending, Abbott said that his inclusion of increased teacher pay on his special session agenda, “kicked off the discussion,” and the positive reaction to that idea meant “the hardest obstacle has been overcome,” and now it remains to find the best way to pay for it.

But, unlike Patrick, Abbott said he has seen no evidence that House Speaker Joe Straus’ call for more spending on public education is a prelude to a Straus call for a state income tax, something Straus has never asked for.

RELATED: Senate puts pedal to metal with midnight vote, fast hearings

“I’m not ready to go there,” Abbott said on WTAW. “I think if we all work together to get things done, we won’t go there.”

And, Abbott said, “as long as I’m governor, we are never going to have a state income tax, so we can put a nail in that coffin real quick.”

In an earlier interview Wednesday with Bob Cole on KOKE-FM in Austin, Abbott said the recent arrest by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents of a “Sureños 13” gang member, who had been previously deported four times, a few weeks after he was released from the Travis County Jail, was proof of the need for a new law banning sanctuary cities and requiring officials, like Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, to fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

But Abbott said, “this is not a roundup by the state of Texas,” and the law does not give police the power to arrest anyone for simply not being a legal resident, or to stop people solely to ask them “to show their papers.”

Assertions to the contrary, he said, are “absolutely false.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Three arrested workers identified in Travis Tax Office fraud case
Three arrested workers identified in Travis Tax Office fraud case

Three employees of the Travis County Tax Office who were arrested Friday amid a fraud investigation are charged with third-degree felonies, according to jail records. Shell Prieto-Reese, 43, and Cathy Wilson, 57, are each charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and forgery, and each have bail posted at $50,000. Susie Alvarez, 43, is charged...
Chance of storms again Monday, but rest of week looks clear
Chance of storms again Monday, but rest of week looks clear

There’s a slight chance the Austin area could see more thunderstorms again Monday, but forecasters say weather for the rest of the week will look nothing like it did Sunday. The weekend wrapped up with showers and thunderstorms developing throughout the day Sunday and a warning that rain levels could reach 5 inches in parts of Travis County....
SANTA FE SCHOOL SHOOTING: Dan Patrick renews call to arm more teachers
SANTA FE SCHOOL SHOOTING: Dan Patrick renews call to arm more teachers

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sunday blamed the Santa Fe High School shooting on “a violent culture where we devalue life,” citing movies and video games, bullying on social media, and abortion. He called for arming teachers as part of the militia envisioned by the Second Amendment. Patrick’s remarks on ABC’s “This Week&rdquo...
Downtown Austin’s ‘Jenga tower’ marks milestone
Downtown Austin’s ‘Jenga tower’ marks milestone

The Independent, a residential high-rise under construction in downtown Austin, has reached its peak height — a milestone for the 58-story building nicknamed the “Jenga tower.” Now standing at its full height of 685 feet, a topping-out ceremony Sunday marks the Independent’s official debut as the tallest building in Austin,...
Texas Digest: Gunfire near Dallas police station prompts more security

DALLAS Gunfire reported near police station Dallas police officials have advised officers to increase security outside the city’s police stations after someone in a vehicle opened fire near a station. Police Sgt. Warren Mitchell told The Dallas Morning News someone was shooting late Saturday night near the city’s Central Division station...
More Stories