AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As lawmakers hit the homestretch of the legislative session, which finishes May 31, both the Texas House and Senate have started to send bills to the Governor’s desk.
With the swipe of a customized pen on Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott permanently allowed restaurants to sell alcohol to-go.
“During the course of the pandemic to help restaurants be able to better deal with the pandemic, we waived regulation to allow restaurants to sell alcohol to go,” he said in a video posted to social media. “Well, it turned out that Texans liked it so much, the Texas Legislature wanted to make that permanent law in the state of Texas.”
That measure, House Bill 1024, was one of the 20 he had signed so far this session. More than a dozen of the bills he’s approved are resolutions honoring Texans for various accomplishments.
Others include Senate Bill 632, which allows the Lower Colorado River Authority to improve broadband connectivity service. Another bill on the list, House Bill 1195, excludes medical and dental billing services from taxation if they’re performed before an insurance claim is submitted.
This past week, Abbott also signed a law that states businesses don’t have to pay franchise taxes on forgiven pandemic Paycheck Protection Program loans.
“There are many businesses in the state of Texas that received PPP loans to help them make ends meet over the course of the pandemic, and they were able to get those PPP loans forgiven by the federal government,” he said. “The last thing those businesses need at this time is to be taxed on those forgiven PPP loans.”
More than 1,500 bills had reached Abbott’s desk by Wednesday. He has not vetoed any bill yet.
The Governor has 10 days to sign or veto a bill that arrives at his desk, or it automatically becomes law. If a bill is sent to the Governor within 10 days of the final adjournment of session, he has until 20 days after lawmakers gavel out to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without a signature.
“As the legislature works through their final days of the 2021 legislative session, the hundreds, if not thousands, of bills that make their way through both chambers end up on the Governor’s desk for consideration,” Abbott’s press secretary Renae Eze, said in a statement. “Governor Abbott reads every word of every single bill that reaches his desk, weighing the impact his signature will have on all Texans and the future of the Lone Star State.”
In his past legislative sessions, Abbott normally vetoed between 40-60 bills per session and signs more than 1,000 bills. He has also allowed around 150 bills each session to become law without his signature.
If the Governor vetoes a bill, it goes back to the chamber where it originated from with an explanation of his objection. A two-thirds majority vote is needed to override a veto.
Graphic artist Jeffrey Wright contributed to this report.