Back in May, the Freedom Caucus went for broke and killed over 120 bills which were on the local and consent calendar. This act, which caused much angst within some moderate circles, turned out to be the turning point in what is being viewed by some as a mini-revolution in the Capitol.
The “Mother’s Day Massacre,” as it was labeled by the mainstream media, was an act of standing on principle and standing up to what was perceived by the group as bullying and lawlessness in the House. The act generated a lot of press about the Freedom Caucus and has brought them to the forefront of the debate in state politics.
Sunset bills, which included the renewal of the Texas Medical Board, were also shortly after the massacre took place, and made it mandatory for the governor to call a special session.
The 85th session proved to be one of frustration for many conservatives and one in which several bills that came over from the Senate did not pass. Among these bills were several that grassroots Texans felt passionate about.
The grassroots wrote letters and made calls to Governor Abbott pleading with him to call for a special session and add everything from property tax reform to the privacy act to mail-in ballot fraud onto the call. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick also called on Governor Abbott to add many of these same issues to the special session agenda.
Almost a week after the end of the regular session, Gov. Abbott announced that he would call for a special session.
In his statement to the press, Abbott stated: “Because of their inability or refusal to pass a simple law that would prevent the medical profession from shutting down, I’m announcing a special session to complete that unfinished business, but if I’m going to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a special session, I intend to make it count.”
When the issues on the call were revealed, many in the grassroots were astonished to see several of their issues included among the twenty. It was a win for the grassroots. The Lt. Governor also had priority issues included.
Again, Governor Abbott surprised attendees at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s policy orientation with a bold statement that he made about lawmakers who disagree with his items on the call. In a shocking statement during the question and answer session, Governor Abbott stated:
“What we have to do is to continue the process of ensuring that we have a majority of members of both the House and Senate in support of these pieces of legislation… I’m going to be making a list. You and other organizations may be establishing a list. We all need to establish lists that we publish on a daily basis and call people out—who is for this who is against this, who has not taken a position yet.”
With the Senate fast-tracking all of the Governor’s priorities and the House seemingly taking a much slower approach, it will be interesting to see if the Governor will call for a 2nd special session if his priorities once again fail to pass or even come to the floor for a vote. He has ordered lapel pins with the slogan “20-for-20” for allied legislators. He seems determined to see all of his priorities addressed
Will he hold fast? The next two weeks will be interesting to say the least.
Editor’s note: The article has been amended. A previous error stated that the Sunset bills were killed during the “Mother’s Day Massacre.” Although their demise happened at the same time, it was not due to the Mother’s Day Massacre directly.
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