ROUND 2: Lawmakers convene in the Texas Capitol for the second special session
Rep. Kyle Kacal believes the Texas House will have a quorum by next week.
AUSTIN, Texas (KBTX) - Saturday marks the start of the second special legislative session at the Texas Capitol. The future of this session remains uncertain as it will all depend if a quroum can be reached in the Texas House.
Texas lawmakers were unable to accomplish any items on Governor Abbott’s legislative agenda for the first special session with democrats breaking quorum in the Texas House and fleeing to Washington D.C. over election reform legislation.
However, this second session is already showing signs it may be different.
While the Texas House of Representatives did not have a quorum Saturday to begin the session, the lack of quorum is showing signs that it may not last the entire 30 days this time around.
The Texas Tribune reports two democrats, District 38 Representative Eddie Lucio III and District 41 Representative Bobby Guerra, were on the House floor for this special session.
“After the chamber adjourned, Lucio told reporters he returned to Austin for both professional and personal reasons. He said he anticipated several of his Democratic colleagues to also come back to the chamber in the coming days, which could help the House make quorum “‘as early as this week,’” according to The Texas Tribune.
District 12 Representative Kyle Kacal echoed the same thoughts about the democrats’ return.
“It sounds like they’re going to be gradually coming back, one or two or five at a time, and we’re expecting to have a quorum Monday or Tuesday,” said Kacal.
Kacal attributes the return to redistricting.
“So redistricting is now in our [Republicans] favor, which I think is one reason we’ll have the 10 or 12, 15 Democrats back on the floor by Tuesday, so we will have a quorum,” said Kacal. “Because they need to get these laws passed, show their constituents they’re working, so they can have their seat back and have an opportunity to redistricting.”
However, not all democrats who feld to Washington will be returning to the Lonestar state and instead will stay in Washington.
“We are not there,” said the Texas House Democratic Delegation in a statement. “We refuse to be party to the Republican plan to strip away the voting rights of the citizens we took a solemn oath to protect. 26 Texas House Democrats will be part of an active presence in Washington maintained for as long as Congress is working and making progress on federal voting rights legislation to see this fight through.”
In the Texas Legislature, Kacal says he expects no changes to the election integrity legislation for the second special session.
“I don’t think we’re going give anymore,” said Kacal. “I think the final version that was going to be in the first special was an agreed-upon bill. “The concessions were made. We moved the bill to where most everybody agreed. I think the election integrity bill is as it should be.”
On the Senate side, State Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), said a quorum was reached Saturday in the chamber, so they got to work immediately.
“Complements to the Senate Democrats who are all here today,” said Kolkhorst. “We not only made quorum in the Texas Senate, but we met in Senate finance, Senate jurisprudence, and Senate local government. We’ve passed a number of bills already.”
Some of the bills that passed Senate committees today were the the13th check and bail reform, according to the Senator.
A notable difference between the first and second legislative session for lawmakers are the agenda items. For this second special session, Governor Abbott has added, six new items to the call, like federal relief appropriations, education, primary elections, and more.
Kolkhorst believes the Governor was smart to adds these items to this session and thinks if a quorum can be reached, lawmakers can pass legislation on these items.
Personally, the senator says she will be calling a hearing on hospital capacity as COVID surges.
“I will be calling a hearing very soon on capacity in our hospitals, and looking at how we fund more beds, you know, our understanding is that there is capacity out there,” said Kolkhorst. “The issue is finding personnel to staff those beds, we’re going to work through that.”
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