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Reviewing The 85th Texas Legislature

Ryan Poppe
Texas Public Radio
Protesters fill the state capitol rotunda on Monday, May 29, 2017.

From the start, it had been a back and forth between House and Senate members on whose legislative efforts would be the bigger priority for this session.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, pushed for bans on public transgender bathroom ordinances and property tax reform, while House Speaker Joe Straus promoted House efforts to reform the state’s school finance system.  In the end, neither side won.

For House Democrat Ina Minjarez of San Antonio, it was a hard-fought session, but a successful one in terms of her efforts to help reform the state’s foster care system.

“Happy, with the progress we made with foster care and child protective services, but there was a lot of downs in terms of SB 4 passing,” Minjarez said. 

That’s the state’s new sanctuary cities legislation, one of the first bills Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law.

On the other side of the State Capitol, State Sen. Donna Campbell, a New Braunfels Republican, said she was disappointed that her city annexation ban was killed by a Senate filibuster right at the midnight deadline.

“Our bill just asked the cities to have the people vote whether or not they want to be annexed," Campbell said, "So to take down that bill is to take down the voice of the people.” 

Campbell says she will ask Gov. Greg Abbott to add annexation reform to a special session call – which at this point seems inevitable since the Senate refused to pass a bill that licenses the existence of the Texas Medical Board for another two years.  But during a press conference on Monday in Austin, Abbott reminded everyone that only he has the power to call a special session.

“I’ll be making an announcement later this week about a special session," Abbott said, "I can tell you this: when gets to a special session, the times and topics are solely up the Governor for the State of Texas.” 

If that happens, a special session could begin as early as next week.