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Bail reform, election bills set for public hearings after first day of special session

A day before Thursday’s opening gavel, Governor Greg Abbott revealed 11 items on the agenda that he called “unfinished business” from the regular session.

HOUSTON — Bills on bail reform and potential changes to voting laws have public hearings scheduled for Saturday morning after the first day of the Texas Legislature’s special session in Austin.

A day before Thursday’s opening gavel, Governor Greg Abbott revealed 11 items on the agenda that he called “unfinished business” from the regular session.

Those 11 items include:

  • Bail overhaul
  • Elections
  • Border security
  • Social media censorship
  • Legislative branch funding
  • Family violence prevention
  • Limiting access to school sports teams for transgender students
  • Abortion-inducing drugs
  • An additional payment for retired Texas teachers
  • Critical race theory
  • Other budgetary issues

RELATED: Governor Greg Abbott outlines agenda for special legislative session

Critics believe the governor should focus instead on fixing the grid, expanding Medicaid, and criminal justice reform.

Day 1

Day 1 of the special session was a quick one for lawmakers in both chambers, who were done by lunchtime.

The Texas House gavelled in and out in less than 20 minutes after referring bills to committee, the next step after filing in their journey toward becoming law.

House Democrats ended the regular session in May by walking out on Senate Bill 7, a controversial bill that changed voting rules statewide.

On Thursday, they joined 20 groups outside the State Capitol protesting the new versions filed in the special session.

Both of those House and Senate bills, HB 3 and SB 1, would ban voting methods Harris County used or attempted in 2020, including drive-thru voting, 24-hour voting, and sending out unsolicited mail ballot applications.

RELATED: President Joe Biden says Texas voting bill is 'part of an assault on democracy'

Critics believe these restrictions and others will suppress votes.

“This is a solution in search of a problem, said Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City). “There is no voter fraud. That is emphatically false. It is a false rhetoric that was started by President Trump with the Big Lie, and we are now seeing it here in the Texas Legislature.”

Republicans argue the bills help protect votes and create a uniform set of rules statewide.

“Some counties may not be able to have 24-hour voting, because maybe they don’t have the moneys or the resources to do that,” said Rep. James White (R-Hillister). “Maybe we need 24-hour voting. I don’t think we do, but we want to make sure that everybody’s playing by the same rules.”

The Texas Senate and House will reconvene Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively.

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