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Bill filing for 2021 Texas session begins with legislation on abortion, police stops and redistricting

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The 87th Texas Legislature won’t gavel in until January, but state lawmakers on Monday got their first chance to file legislation for what’s expected to be a particularly tough 140-day stretch at the Capitol next year.

By mid-morning Monday, the first day to pre-file legislation, more than 450 bills had already been filed in the House and Senate. Thousands of bills are expected to be filed throughout the legislative session, though only a fraction of them will make it through both chambers and end up on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

State leaders have already said they expect the upcoming session to be the toughest state lawmakers have seen in years. The state is forecasting billions of dollars in shortfalls to the state budget, which the coronavirus pandemic has fueled. On top of that, lawmakers are set to undergo the once-in-a-decade process of redrawing the state’s political maps.

House Redistricting Committee Chair Phil King, a Weatherford Republican, filed legislation Monday morning related to the composition of House districts and State Board of Education districts with House Bill 63 and 64, respectively.

Filing a bill early typically results in a low number. But the lowest numbers are reserved for the highest priority bills set by the House speaker and lieutenant governor — and sometimes, those pieces of legislation won’t be filed until session is well underway.

A list of notable bills filed from the day, which will be updated regularly:

  • House Bill 54 by state Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, would prohibit law enforcement departments from working with reality television shows. The bill comes after a grand jury in September indicted Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody on a felony evidence tampering charge in the case of Javier Ambler, a Black man who died in 2019 after being stunned with a Taser multiple times by deputies. The incident was caught on camera for an episode of the since-canceled police reality show “Live PD,” that never aired.
  • House Bill 69 by state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, would ban abortions at or after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Current state law prohibits prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If passed, the bill would go into effect Sept. 1, 2021.
  • House Bill 88 by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, known as the George Floyd Act, is named after George Floyd, a Black man killed over the summer in Minneapolis police custody, and would make a number of policing and criminal justice reforms.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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