AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas is in the national spotlight again as lawmakers gavel in for a special session on Thursday.
Gov. Greg Abbott called them back to pass his legislative priorities that didn’t make the cut during the regular session. That includes election reforms, border security, a stricter ban on critical race theory and more abortion restrictions.
“The governor is focused solely on politics, focused on 2022, perhaps focused on 2024, and is expanding state resources, wasting valuable time and energy to cater to far-right extremists in his party,” Grand Prairie Democrat Rep. Chris Turner said after lawmakers gaveled out. They were only on the floor for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, outside the Capitol, protesters gathered on the south steps to voice their concerns about the voting regulations bill.
“These voter suppression laws have been created. Here we are. We’re calling this the suppression session,” Black Voters Matter founder LaTosha Brown shouted to the crowd.
“We are more resilient, and we are more resistant than ever. We will have voting rights in this nation,” Brown added.
She was joined by several other voting advocacy groups, like MOVE Texas, and Texas Democrats.
But, Republicans said the bill needs to pass to ensure uniform voting in all 254 Texas counties.
“You expect the government to conduct the elections, but conduct elections that are constitutionally sound that are respectful to all voters and that are secure and have earned the integrity and confidence of the voters,” Republican Rep. James White of Woodville said Thursday.
In May, Democrats blocked the elections bill by walking out and breaking the quorum. This time, they said all options are on the table again.
“We’re going to use every parliamentary means available to us to stop these bills,” Houston Democrat Rep. Armando Walle said Thursday.
But Republican leadership is ready to fight back.
“My Democratic colleagues have been quoted saying that, you know, all options on the table, you know, respectfully all options on the table for myself as well,” Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican from Beaumont, said earlier this week.
The Speaker said the House will briefly gavel in Friday morning then adjourn until Tuesday. The elections bill is set for its first hearing on Saturday.