School choice, ‘bathroom bill,' Texas Medical Board back on agenda for special session

Bathroom privacy, property tax reform, education savings accounts: Those are just some of the items Governor Greg Abbott wants lawmakers to address when he calls them back for a special session in July.

AUSTIN - Gov. Greg Abbott announced the Texas Legislature will reconvene for a special session in mid-July in order to address 20 agenda items that include school choice, the controversial 'bathroom bill' and sunset legislation that will allow the Texas Medical Board to continue operating.

At a special press conference Tuesday afternoon, Abbott said the session would begin July 18.

"There was plenty of time for the House and Senate to forge compromises and avoid the time and taxpayer expense of a special session," Gov. Abbott said. "Because of their inability or refusal to pass a simple law that would prevent the medical profession from shutting down, I am announcing a special session to complete that unfinished business."

Abbott said the sunset bill will remain the only item on the session calendar until it passes out of the Senate. After the legislation passes, Abbott said he will add 19 more agenda items for both the House and Senate to put to a vote.

A portion of the 19 items will be related to schools and teachers.

"Because nothing is more important than our children," Abbott said. "Their future and our future is shaped by the quality of their education."

One agenda item will address giving teachers a $1,000 pay bump, which Abbott said could be done by having the legislature re-prioritize where schools spend their funding.

During the press conference, Abbott singled out the City of Austin for legislation he wants to be considered during the session.

"They're [the City of Austin] doing everything they can to over-regulate," he said. "In the process, they are stifling our economy, interfering with job creation and undermining private property rights."

The legislation would prevent cities from micro-managing what property owners do with trees on their private land, prevents local governments from changing the rules halfway through a construction project and speeds up permitting requirements, according to Abbott.

An agenda item that Abbott's office labeled as "privacy" aims to resurrect the controversial "bathroom bill." Abbott said at the very least, the legislature should pass legislation that protects the privacy of children in public schools. Abbott said House Bill 2899 would solve the problem because it complies with both federal and state regulations.

Read the full list of session items below: 

1.    Sunset legislation
2.    Teacher pay increase of $1,000      
3.    Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
4.    School finance reform commission
5.    School choice for special needs students
6.    Property tax reform
7.    Caps on state and local spending
8.    Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
9.    Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
10.  Speeding up local government permitting process
11.  Municipal annexation reform
12.  Texting while driving preemption
13.  Privacy
14.  Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
15.  Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
16.  Pro-life insurance reform
17.  Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
18.  Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
19.  Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
20.  Extending maternal mortality task force

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus released the following statement after the announcement:

I hope that Members will take advantage of the next six weeks to spend with their families after a long 140-day legislative session. The Members of the House will return to the Capitol next month ready to put their constituents and the best interest of the state first. The House looks forward to resuming our work on school finance and other challenges facing this state.

Mayor Steve Adler held a press conference following the announcement. Watch here:

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