AUSTIN, Texas — The third special session of the Texas Legislature came to an end early Tuesday morning.
Redistricting was a major focus of the third special session, with lawmakers passing the new U.S. congressional map Monday night in an 84 to 59 vote. Due to Texas's population growth, two new seats were added.
New Texas House and Senate maps were also passed in this special session. Democrats say these new maps favor white Republican incumbents due to the way the lines are drawn. They say the maps split up areas where Black and Hispanic voters live, making their votes less powerful.
Aside from new maps, a bill that limits the participation of transgender student-athletes in public school sports was also passed during this session. The bill requires transgender student-athletes to play on sports teams based on the sex assigned at or near their birth. It does include an exception for girls who want to play a sport that doesn't have a girls' team, like football.
Additionally, lawmakers decided how the state will spend Federal COVID relief dollars and passed protections for dogs from cruelty and abuse.
A bill to increase the homestead property tax exemption also made it past the finish line, however, it will need voter approval.
But bills related to several agenda items did not pass, including a ban of vaccine mandates by any Texas entity, changing some voting offenses from misdemeanors to felonies and a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution that would have let judges deny bail to people facing charges for violent or sexual offenses.
At this time, it is unclear if Gov. Greg Abbott will call a fourth special session to address those items or others. If he does not, the next legislative session is set for 2023.
Gov. Abbott released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
"Property tax relief, appropriating funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and redrawing legislative districts were at the forefront of the agenda for the third Special Session. Texans tasked the Legislature with delivering on these priorities, and I am proud to say not only did we deliver on these priorities, but the Legislature went above and beyond to solve other critical issues to ensure an even brighter future for the Lone Star State.
"The Legislature successfully passed an innovative distribution package for ARPA funding — appropriating billions of dollars to bolster COVID-19 recovery, public safety, broadband infrastructure, cybersecurity, healthcare and more. Legislation was passed that secured a vote on a constitutional amendment that will provide property tax relief to Texas homeowners. Both chambers also passed legislation to protect the integrity of Texas high school sports, strengthen higher education, protect dogs from cruelty and abuse, and expand access to education grants for children of fallen first responders.
"These dynamic achievements would not have been possible without the men and women of the Texas House and Senate who worked tirelessly through the third Special Session to ensure these priorities made it across the finish line. Because of their efforts, the future of Texas is stronger, safer and freer."
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