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

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor

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:

  1. Sunset legislation
  2. Teacher pay increase of $1,000
  3. Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  4. School finance reform commission
  5. School choice for special needs students
  6. Property tax reform
  7. Caps on state and local spending
  8. Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  9. Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  10. Speeding up local government permitting process
  11. Municipal annexation reform
  12. Texting while driving preemption
  13. Privacy
  14. Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  15. Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  16. Pro-life insurance reform
  17. Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  18. Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  19. Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  20. 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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