'Bathroom bill' among Abbott's priorities for special legislative session

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday called a special session of the state Legislature with 20 priorities for lawmakers. Among them is the state's controversial "bathroom bill."

Abbott announced his decision during a news conference in Austin that came about a week after the 86th legislative session ended.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has championed the idea of a special session to settle issues left unresolved, namely the state's bill that would require people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate. Abbott briefly mentioned protecting the privacy of women and children in his remark to revive the legislation.

"Another way to avoid a patchwork quilt of conflicting regulations, is for Texas to establish a single, statewide rule protecting the privacy of women and children," Abbott said. "House Bill 2899, by Rep. Ron Simmons, would achieve that. It prevents local regulations that conflict with state standards and also upholds federal standards that prohibit discrimination."

Abbot said the priority for legislators, however, will be to address funding for the Texas Medical Board and keep the state agency running, Abbott said. He said that after a funding measure passes, legislators will move on to other issues like teacher pay increases, school choice for special needs children and pro-life initiatives.

“I expect legislators to return with a calm demeanor, with a firm commitment to make Texas even better,” Abbott said.

Abbott said the special session will start July 18 and will last for 30 days.

During Tuesday's news conference, Abbott also announced that he had signed into law a statewide ban on texting while driving.

The following is a complete list provided by Abbott's office of the governor's priorities for the special session:

  • Sunset legislation
  • Teacher pay increase of $1,000
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  • School finance reform commission
  • School choice for special needs students
  • Property tax reform
  • Caps on state and local spending
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  • Speeding up local government permitting process
  • Municipal annexation reform
  • Texting while driving preemption
  • Privacy
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  • Pro-life insurance reform
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  • Extending maternal mortality task force
  • Editor's note: A previous version of this story reported that the so-called "bathroom bill" was not among Abbott's priorities.

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    About the Author:

    Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.