AUSTIN - UPDATE: After a final vote Friday in the Texas House of Representatives, the must-pass bills that forced the Texas Legislature's Special Session have been signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.
The news came with six days left in the special session.
ORIGINAL STORY: The House of Representatives unanimously voted to tentatively pass Senate Bill 20 and Senate Bill 60. The bills are are identical to the House versions of the sunset legislation. They will keep a handful of state agencies operating and makes sure they are funded.
Without these bills, those agencies, including the Texas Medical Board which licenses doctors, would cease to exist. Lawmakers failed to pass the bills during the regular session. Some at the Capitol believe it was partly a political move by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to force the special session. But once these bills finally pass, neither chamber will have leverage over the other.
"The absolute, must-pass is going to pass," said Representative Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) who helped author the bills. "And assuming the governor signs it, which I'm sure he will. This is the bill he asked for, in the exact form he asked for it, right. We filed exactly what he asked us to file. I anticipate a quick signature and the people of Texas will know that our business to the sunset bills is done. And there is no more leverages, as you say, to use against anybody at this point."
Because the House approved the bills without making any changes the legislation will go directly to the governor after the final vote Friday.
And while this is the only 'must-pass' legislation, the Governor put 19 other topics on the call and has asked lawmakers to pass bills on all the issues. His Press Secretary said Thursday they're hopeful that will happen.
But some of the bills are controversial, such as Senate Bill 3, the so-called bathroom bill. Thursday more companies added their names to a letter opposing the bill, including Nike and AirBnB.
A letter was also sent to the Lieutenant Governor and Senate Thursday, signed by more than 1,500 public school superintendents and trustees, urging them to pass House Bill 21 on school finance reform bill.
Of course, time is of the essence, the special session ends Aug. 16.
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