AUSTIN—Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation commended Gov. Greg Abbott for focusing the upcoming Special Session of the 87th Legislature on issues that matter to Texans—election integrity, bail reform, border security and property taxes, among others.
“Important issues were addressed in the regular Session, but we said at its close that the Legislature’s job was unfinished,” says TPPF Chief Executive Officer Kevin Roberts. “Now, Gov. Abbott has given lawmakers the opportunity to finish the tasks at hand and demonstrate to the nation that Texas continues to be the model for conservative leadership.”
One of the Legislature’s top priorities, as set out in Gov. Abbott’s call, is ensuring that Texas elections remain free and fair. A walkout by some members of the Legislature scuttled reforms that would have been enacted by Senate Bill 7 at the end of the regular Session.
“The U.S. Constitution is clear—state legislatures, not county officials, set the ‘time, place and manner’ of our elections,” says TPPF’s Chad Ennis. “Harris County’s attempts during the pandemic to rewrite the rules for elections led only to widespread confusion and acrimony. Lawmakers have the opportunity to extend the common-sense protection of voter ID to mail-in ballots, something that more than 80% of Texans support and close one loophole that has long existed for fraudulent acts by ballot traffickers.”
The walkout during the regular Session also killed some important bail reforms.
“The special session presents an incredible opportunity to further improve the Damon Allen Act, ensuring it will both provide an attainable avenue to pre-trial release for defendants who pose little to no risk, while also protecting Texans from defendants who have shown to pose a high risk to their communities,” says Right on Crime’s Brett Tolman. “Our hope is that leadership will keep the momentum and continue fighting for a comprehensive, practical and compassionate solution to our state’s broken pre-trial system so that Texas can maintain our reputation as a national model for improving public safety through effective criminal justice reform.”
The call also includes a request for the Legislature to support law enforcement agencies and counties reeling from the crisis at the southern border. In a few short months, President Biden has fomented a security and humanitarian tragedy in south Texas that has led to an explosion of illegal crossings.
“Human smuggling is so lucrative for the cartels they will risk anything and anyone to keep the money flowing,” said TPPF’s Ken Oliver, who leads the Right on Immigration initiative. “If the Biden Administration won’t engage, Texas must.”
Additionally, the Governor has asked for legislators to address rising property taxes that are driving people out of their homes and putting significant strain on family budgets. In a recent poll from TPPF, more than 70% of Texans said they would be upset if the session ended without addressing property taxes.
“Texans are fed up with paying exorbitantly high local property taxes,” said TPPF Chief Economist Vance Ginn. “By limiting spending and redesigning Texas’s tax system, the Governor’s special session call to use additional general revenue available for property tax relief is welcome news for millions of Texans who want to see lower tax bills.”