This Week in Texas: August 11, 2021

Posted August 11, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

26 Days Left in the Second Special Session of the 87th Legislature

Second Special Session “Starts”…

Can we really say it started if there is no quorum in the House?

The first special session ended last Friday without any legislation making it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for a signature. Since round two kicked off on Saturday, the House has been unable to have a quorum to conduct any business, as dozens of Democrats have remained absent from the chamber.

Yesterday, the House members present voted to authorize law enforcement to track down Democrats absent from the chamber and bring them back to the state Capitol, and Speaker Phelan signed 52 civil arrest warrants for missing Democrats. The Senate meanwhile has moved quickly to pass all the bills on Gov. Abbott’s special session agenda.

Funding for Legislature and Staff is Extended

Late last week, Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, and House Appropriations Chair Dr. Greg Bonnen announced an additional month of funding for the Legislature, meaning 2,100 legislative employees will continue to be paid through Sept. 30.

The move comes two months after Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed the portion of the state budget that funds the legislative branch—often referred to as Article X of the state budget. On Monday, the Texas Supreme Court denied a request from several Democratic House members and state employees asking the justices to overturn Gov. Abbott’s veto of legislative funding.

Rep. Leo Pacheco Plans to  Resign

Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio) announced that he will resign from his position in the state legislature and begin teaching full-time at San Antonio College.

“Teaching is my passion so I will not be passing up this wonderful opportunity. I will be resigning my position as State Representative due to current state law that will not allow me to serve in both positions concurrently,” Pacheco wrote in a social media post. Pacheco was first elected in 2018 after defeating then-Rep. Tomas Uresti in a Democratic primary challenge.

Only in Austin…

Former state Sen. Kirk Watson says he’s considering running for mayor of Austin during the November 2022 election. Watson, a Democrat, was Austin’s mayor from 1997 to 2001.

“I’m considering it seriously. That includes talking to people, doing some research, and considering what I want to be doing right now,” Watson said. State Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), whose term expires at the end of 2022, also expressed interest in running for mayor on Monday and has made phone calls to supporters.