Gov. Greg Abbott said he will announce later this week whether to call a special session, resolving a standoff between the Texas Senate and House.
“I’ll be making an announcement later this week on a special session,” Abbott said. “When it gets to a special session, the time and topics are solely up to the governor in the state of Texas. If we have a special session, we will be convening on only the topics I choose by the time of my choosing.”
Asked how much pressure he was feeling from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to call a special session to consider a transgender “bathroom bill” and property tax reform, Abbott answered, “None.”
Of the session, Abbott said, “My biggest disappointment, of course, is that the sunset bill did not pass. That is something that is incredibly easy to achieve that members could’ve easily gotten together and agreed upon. But that simply was not done.”
Abbott, who has the sole authority to call a special session and determine what issues can be considered, had made it clear that he wanted to sign legislation on the rules governing transgender bathroom use and property tax reform, but he also has said the work should be done during the regular biennial 140-day legislative session, which ends Monday.
Patrick used the failure of the House and Senate to agree on sunset legislation needed to keep the Texas Medical Board and several other state agencies in operation as leverage to demand a special session.
The decision on calling a special session places Abbott in perhaps the trickiest spot of his governorship.
If he fails to call a special session, he will invite the ire of Patrick and social conservative grassroots activists who had joined him in demanding that Abbott call the extra session to deal with issues important to them.
But, if he calls the special session, he may look as if he is capitulating to Patrick and ceding him political primacy under the Capitol dome.
Abbott’s comments came at a press conference at a Texas Department of Transportation parking lot to sign into law a bill that creates state regulations for ride-hailing companies, overturning Austin rules that led Uber and Lyft to stop operating in the city.