National News

Texas Senate Passes Sunset Bill; Agenda For Session Is Set

Posted July 20

— In the early morning hours of Thursday, the Texas State Senate passed 2 critical bills related to the states sunset legislation, that would ensure the continued operation of certain state agencies through September 1, 2017. Being a priority for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the other 19 items on his special session agenda could not be debated until this piece of legislation was passed.

In a somewhat of an unconventional chamber session being called one minute after midnight on Thursday morning, in lieu of a pastor to deliver the invocation, Sen. Lois Kholorst delivered the prayer prior to the session and the "Doctor of the Day" was from Texas Senate District 24, Senator Dawn Buckingham, who is also a practicing physician.

After a brief pause on the floor to complete some paperwork, the first of the two bills, SB 20 was voted on and passed 31-0. Only moments later, the second bill of the night, SB 60 was passed by the same unanimous number.

Shortly after the votes were recorded, Secretary of the Senate Patsy Spaw read a proclamation from Gov. Abbott announcing the other items he would have the legislature tend to during this special session. Among those items were school finance reform, speeding up local permitting processes, rollback elections for property taxes, and a bill to restrict bathroom usage to transgender Texans.

On Wednesday, the senate met for about an hour and voted on the Sunset legislation in a second reading which passed the Senate 31-0. The vote Thursday morning was largely ceremonial and was the last step in paving the way for future debate on more socially motivated issues such as the controversial "bathroom bill" that Mr. Patrick has been pushing for since before the beginning of the regular session in January.

The intent of Mr. Patrick was clear from the onset of the special session that he intended to have all 20 of Gov. Abbott's bills heard during the session. "I believe will we go 20 for 20 in this special session", Mr. Patrick said recently in a press conference before the special session began on Tuesday.

To back that idea up, Patrick took to Twitter to say that "I have called the Texas Senate back at 12:01 AM tomorrow morning so we can pass out the Sunset Bill at the soonest possible moment."

The votes tonight were a clear path forward in the direction that Patrick wishes to see happen.

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