Last week Governor Greg Abbott gave his State of the State address, essentially kicking off the 85th legislative session.
While the legislature has been in session since January 10, not much has been done to this point. Many would argue that until Gov. Abbott laid out his priorities for session, much of the activity at the Capitol was mere posturing. Now that the Governor has outlined his expectations for the session, the real battles begin.
But how does a governor decide, out of the multitude of issues that are brought to his attention daily, which become a priority? Obviously, not every issue can be an emergency item.
None of the four emergency items Gov. Abbott declared came as a surprise to those closely following Texas politics. Three of the four are mentioned in some form or fashion in the Republican Party of Texas’ platform, with CPS Reform being the exception:
While dissecting the issues Gov. Abbott chose to mark as emergency items is important, what might be more interesting is an analysis of a few he didn’t choose. Once an issue has been declared an emergency item, legislators are essentially required to act. If they don’t, the Governor might call a special session, which would require legislators to stay away from home longer than the allotted 140 days.
The two most notable issues not listed by Gov. Abbott as emergency items are:
We are still less than a month into the 140-day legislative session, which means there is ample time for legislators (including the sitting governor) to change course.
Throughout the 85th Legislative Session, Transparency Texas will be keeping track of these issues, along with many others, outlining the players and how their motivations, financial and otherwise, might be influencing their decisions.
Our Capitol Crowd series outlines and highlights the politicians, advocacy groups, and donors that have the biggest impact during the 140-day legislative session. Check back throughout session for updates.