This Week in Texas: October 20, 2021

Posted October 20, 2021 in The Mignon Memo

The Third Legislative Special Session Ended Tuesday

Lawmakers Have Been in Session 227 Days in 2021

Lawmakers Adjourn Third Special Session

The Texas Legislature adjourned from its third special session early Tuesday morning after a final flurry of activity that included agreeing on a number of bills on Governor Abbott’s special session agenda.

The primary focus of the most recent 30-day special session was to redraw the state’s political maps for the next 10 years. But Gov. Greg Abbott also instructed the Legislature to pass laws on a variety of other priorities.

In all, most of Gov. Abbott’s agenda items were passed into law, passing legislation on 6 of the 10 issues on the special session to-do list.

Another special session is not expected, although Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t get his way on all of his agenda items, including a ban on vaccine mandates.

Read our end-of-session report for more.

8 Constitutional Amendments on the Ballot

On Monday, the 12-day early voting period for eight constitutional amendments to the Texas Constitution. Election day for this election is November 2.

The proposed amendments include two pandemic-inspired measures — one to preserve access to loved ones in nursing homes, and another barring state agencies or local governments from issuing orders that prohibit or limit religious gatherings.

Voters will consider the following:

  • Proposition 1 would add rodeos to the list of professional sporting events that can hold raffles to raise money for charity.
  • Proposition 2 would let counties pay for transportation needs in blighted or underdeveloped areas by taking advantage of rising property values — caused by the road projects — to pay off the transportation debt.
  • Proposition 3 would expand the freedom of worship section in the state’s Bill of Rights to prohibit governments from taking any action that “prohibits or limits religious services.” This proposition was inspired by state and local government orders that closed in-person church services and religious gatherings at the height of the pandemic last year.
  • Proposition 4 would change the eligibility requirements to serve on the Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, and intermediate appeals courts — clarifying that candidates must be a practicing lawyer or judge in Texas for at least 10 years under a law license that had not been revoked or suspended.
  • Proposition 5 would let the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates and takes disciplinary action against judges at all levels, accept complaints against judicial candidates as well.
  • Proposition 6 would give residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities the right to designate an “essential caregiver” who could not, under most circumstances, be prohibited from in-person visits.
  • Proposition 7 would let disability-based homestead exemptions on property taxes continue for surviving spouses who are 55 or older when their disabled spouse dies.
  • Proposition 8 would extend property tax breaks — already available to the spouse of a service member killed in action — to spouses of troops who were killed in the line of duty but not in combat.

More Retirement Announcements

Three more lawmakers announced they will not be returning to their current seats since our last update (new updates in bold below).

Here is a list of lawmakers that are retiring or not seeking re-election to the position they currently hold:

  • Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio)–The winner of the November 2 special runoff election between John Lujan and Frank Ramirez will fill this seat.
  • Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie)–Rep. Brian Harrison has filled this vacant seat and has been sworn in as the new Representative for HD 10.
  • Rep. James White (R-Hillister)–running for Texas Land Commissioner.
  • Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton)–running for U.S. Congress.
  • Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound)–running for Texas Senate seat after Sen. Jane Nelson departure.
  • Rep. John Turner (D-Dallas)–retiring.
  • Rep. Ben Leman (R-Anderson)–retiring.
  • Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth)–running for Texas Attorney General.
  • Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney)–retiring.
  • Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin)–running for Austin Mayor.
  • Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall)–retiring.
  • Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston)–retiring.
  • Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford)–running for Texas Senate District 10.
  • Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville)–retiring.
  • Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio)–retiring.
  • Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston)–retiring.
  • Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound)–retiring.
  • Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway)–running for Texas Land Commissioner.

Only in Austin…

The legendary George Strait will perform on April 29, 2022 as part of the grand opening celebration of Moody Center, Austin’s new $338 million venue opening next April on the University of Texas campus. And he’ll be joined by the equally legendary Willie Nelson, marking only the second time in their long careers that the two music icons will share a stage. 

Moody Center opens in April 2022 at the University of Texas. Exclusive VIP Packages and tickets for the ‘Strait from Moody Center’ Grand Opening Celebration Presented by Bud Light go on sale Friday, Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. CT. Fans can also sign up for the Moody Center newsletter between now and Monday, Oct. 18 to receive venue pre-sale access from Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. CT until Thursday, Oct. 21 at 10 p.m. CT.

Get your tickets now!