Texas Governor Greg Abbott convened a special session of the Texas legislature on Tuesday that will begin July 8, a move that will reinvigorate Republican efforts to put what are believed to be the most far-reaching electoral restrictions in the country.
Mr. Abbott, a Republican, was forced to convene a special session after Democratic lawmakers held an 11-hour strike last month that temporarily thwarted Republican efforts to overhaul the state’s electoral system and delayed other GOP legislative priorities.
Now the new session will restart the clock.
Republicans will have to start the process over, but it is possible that they could simply use the final version of the bill, which was not passed in May. Given that the party has control over both houses of the legislature, its leadership could pass a new bill by party lines.
Mr Abbott did not say what proposals the special session would discuss Tuesday, but a Texas Republican legislature confirmed the session would handle the state’s voting laws. Texas Republicans may have other legislative goals as well, including overhauling the state’s bailout system.
The original Voting Act, known as SB 7, included new restrictions on postal voting; granted the party election observers a broad new autonomy and authority; escalated penalties for mistakes or offenses by election officials; and banned both the drive-through voting and the 24-hour voting, used for the first time during the 2020 election in Harris County, home of Houston and a growing number of the state’s Democratic voters.
The Democratic strike, in which Republicans fell below the 100-member threshold required for a quorum to continue business, angered the state GOP leaders, who blamed the State Capitol, one of Mr. Abbotts – and one of former President Donald J. Trump’s legislative priorities.
Last week, the Texas Democrats who organized the strike made a pilgrimage to Washington to persuade recalcitrant senators to pass federal referendum reforms that were sure to fail on Tuesday.
“We knew he would call us back to pass the electoral suppression law,” State Representative Gina Hinojosa said Tuesday after Abbott’s announcement. “That’s why we flew to Washington to represent our case in the US Senate. As a minority party, we can only block the GOP’s attack on democracy for so long. “
While the Democrats were able to halt the passing of the Voting Bill through the nightly exodus, it was based on months of opposition and legislative maneuvers against the bill that led to its demise, and held long question-and-answer periods and extensive debates around nightly votes and To enforce delays in the process.
But voting won’t be the only item on the agenda in Texas. Mr Abbott signaled that he would address several priorities before the legislature returns to a likely controversial struggle over redistribution in September.
The governor has indicated that he wants a bill to revise the state bail system, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, also a Republican, has called on lawmakers to pass a bill preventing transgender athletes from participating in school sports and another bill aimed at censoring social media companies.
The Texas legislature has shifted sharply to the right during the last term, adopting aggressive measures, including a near-ban on abortion and a law that allows the carrying of handguns without a permit.
Reid J. Epstein contributed to the coverage.