Sunset legislation leads to special session in Austin

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas House of Representatives is expected back in session Wednesday morning.

The Texas Senate is expected to be back at work Wednesday afternoon.

The special session in the Texas Senate started with the sunset legislation.

Lawmakers said it was important because it included money for the Texas Medical Board. If lawmakers do not take action, the state board will close its doors Sept. 1. After that, no doctor’s licenses or renewals would be processed. That would affect an estimated 200,000 doctors and millions of patients across Texas.

"Well, I think the people would find it very important to have input in the public's business and by suspending 11-10, it would prevent them from doing that, wouldn't it?” Senator Sylvia Garcia, Democrat of Houston, said.

Garcia opposed what was ultimately a successful push to allow a committee to quickly hear sunset bills in the Senate.

She said Texans deserved advanced warning of a public hearing. She said it was an attempt to fast-track dangerous legislation. She said it was a bad sign of what was to come this legislative session.

Republicans responded, saying all of the statewide attention on the special session and the sunset legislation was adequate to inform the public of the discussions in a committee meeting.

"The practical result would have been, it would have delayed things by two days. Effectively what would have happened was the Senate would have done nothing for two days if the tag had been sustained," Senator Paul Bettencourt, Republican of Houston, said.

The special session can last up to 30 days.

Gov. Greg Abbott could choose to call another special session.

The next regularly scheduled session in in January 2019.

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