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Gov. Abbott will decide this week whether to call special session

It's virtually assured by Texas Senate's failure to move on sunset bill

HOUSTON – It seems almost certain a special session of the Texas Legislature will have to be called this summer.

The idea is championed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but the ultimate decision is up to Gov. Gregg Abbott, and simply having to make it puts the governor in a tough spot, politically.

Patrick, who enjoys strong support from social conservatives, wants another crack at bills he calls priorities, including restrictions on transgender Texans’ use of public bathrooms, and a property tax measure. Both died in the Texas House during the regular session.

Earlier this month, Patrick said, “The people don’t want us to come home with the job unfinished. They want us to stay here and get the job done.”

A special session was virtually assured by the Texas Senate’s failure to move on a sunset bill required to keep five state agencies in operation, including the Texas Medical Board, which licenses doctors. The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate.

But there is strong opposition to the “bathroom bill” by the state’s business community. It’s opposed by the Texas Association of Business, which estimated it could cost the state up to $8 billion in lost convention, sporting and entertainment bookings.

On May 27, CEOs of 14 major corporations, including Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon, sent a letter to Abbott, cautioning that the passage of “discriminatory” laws would hurt their ability to conduct business in Texas.

The letter says in part, “As large employers in the state, we are gravely concerned that any such legislation would deeply tarnish Texas’ reputation as open and friendly to businesses and families. We strongly urge you and the Texas Legislature not to further pursue legislation of this kind.”

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said it puts Abbott in a no-win situation.

“He’s either going to alienate the business community and potentially hurt the the Texas economy, or he’s going to alienate social conservatives,” Jones said. “He has to make a decision between the two.”

On Monday, Abbott said he would make a decision sometime this week.

Asked how much pressure he felt coming from Patrick to hold a special session, Abbott replied, “None.”​