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GOP Lawmakers Went Hard Right In 2021 During Texas' 'Most Conservative Legislative Session'

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Fog enshrouds Texas Capitol dome on Jan. 8, 2019, opening day of the 86th Texas Legislature. KEN
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Fog enshrouds Texas Capitol dome on Jan. 8, 2019, opening day of the 86th Texas Legislature. KEN HERMAN/American-StatesmanAbortion Oped

What's been called Texas’ most conservative legislative session in over 30 years has ended, during which GOP lawmakers took an unmistakably hard-right turn toward an agenda full of hot-button conservative issues.

Among the many laws passed in 2021, the Republican-controlled legislature voted "yes" to permitless carry and to further restrict a person’s ability to legally obtain an abortion.

In a tweet, Gov. Abbott touted, confirmed and presumed victories related to “constitutional carry, 2nd amendment sanctuary state, heartbeat bill, election integrity, stop cities from defunding police, crack down on rioters and protestors.”

Abbott and other conservatives had also supported regulating the rights of transgender youth and banning the teaching of authentic history, current events and critical-race theory in public-school classrooms.

In a post-session interview, Abbott called these "legacy-based issues that people have been clamoring for a long time."

In a last-ditch effort to thwart another controversial bill to add restrictions related to Texans' voting rights, Democrats rocked state politics when they walked out right before the deadline, causing Senate Bill 7 to die.

Critics say the voting rights bill would have disproportionately affected communities of color and voters with disabilities. In response to its failure, Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened to call lawmakers back for a special session in the fall.

What were GOP lawmakers' motivations for crafting and championing such hard-right legislation? Are these issues of real importance for Republican voters? Are their actions this session a product of the coming redistricting?

Do these laws expand or limit personal freedom? Do GOP priorities for the 2021 session exemplify true conservativism?

Are any of the new laws subject to legal challenges? What could happen if voting restrictions are brought back for consideration in a special session?

Do all Texans feel represented after the recent legislative session? Could Republican lawmakers' actions backfire in 2022?

Guests:

  • Bill Miller, Republican political strategist and co-founder of HillCo Partners
  • Cal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University
  • Harold Cook, Democratic public affairs consultant and political commentator

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, June 8.