The last day of the 88th Legislative Session is Monday, May 29, 2023. After a total of 140 days, the regular session will officially come to an end. During the Saturday and Sunday leading up to the last day, strict deadlines for the House and the Senate will halt all new activity and essentially be focused on printing and distributing committee reports, joint resolutions, and other bills. One might think that come Tuesday, May 30, our state legislators would be on a fast exodus from Austin back to their homes and constituents, but that hasn’t been the case for the 87th, 85th, and several sessions prior.
Why the Special Session?
The Constitution of Texas states: “The Governor may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the Legislature at the seat of Government, or at a different place, in case that should be in possession of the public enemy or in case of the prevalence of disease threat. His proclamation, therefore, shall state specifically the purpose for which the Legislature is convened.”
In short, only the governor can call a special session of the Texas legislature, which can last up to 30 days, and only legislation on matters declared by the governor can be addressed. However, if those issues do not resolve in 30 days, additional special sessions may be called, as we saw in the 87th legislative session, where we completed three.
Team Yay or Nay?
All bets are on the table right now at the Capitol for the likelihood of a special session. At the beginning of the 88th session journey, Governor Abbot, Lt. Governor Paxton, and Speaker Phelan shared detailed legislative priorities. The first bill in the House and Senate (HB 1 and SB 1) addresses the General Appropriations Bill. Currently, HB 1 has passed five of the seven stages required before a bill becomes law, and SB 1 has passed one. That is less concerning than it may sound since the Senate’s timelines are more flexible than the House’s. However, with a little more than a week left in regular session, agreement on the budget, plus critical issues like property tax relief (SB 4) and education savings accounts/vouchers (SB 8), there is rising concern about the probability of a special session.
In a May 17, 2023 article by Fox 26 Houston, Governor Abbot is noted to say “that if SB 8 doesn’t pass or if the amendments drastically alter the bill, he’ll veto it and call a special session.”
As for teams’, yay or nay, the deciding factor seems to be whether we’ll see key legislation “held hostage” to create desired results or the introduction of additional amendments designed to seek collaborative solutions win out.
When it's a Wrap…
After the 88th Legislative Session, and perhaps a special session (or two) are complete, be sure to join us at UP CLOSE: Business Brunch & Briefing. We will hear from Senator Drew Springer and Representatives Matt Shaheen and Jared Patterson about new bills, laws, and policies that could impact your business. Don’t snooze and lose out on this important event on August 30, 2023, from 8:00 – 10:00 AM at Collin College Frisco Campus Conference Center; REGISTER today! And, of course, if you have any questions about the 88th Legislative Session, please send us a message, and we will connect you to the best resources.