Gov. Greg Abbott called the Texas Legislature back into session on July 18 to address Sunset legislation that needed to pass during the regular session. Once that has been accomplished, Abbott promised to add 19 more items to the special session call including “legislation to crack down on mail ballot fraud.” Abbott cited the ongoing investigation into a mail-ballot fraud scheme in Dallas Co. as a justification for addressing the issue in the special session. During the regular session, the Legislature passed a bill making changes to the Voter ID law, but that law has no effect on voting by mail. Late last month, several conservative groups and activists asked Abbott to call a special session on election integrity.
As expected, redistricting was not among the items included in the call, leaving it to the judiciary. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in a North Carolina redistricting case, federal judge Xavier Rodriguez asked the state whether it would “voluntarily undertake redistricting in a special session.” In a filing, the state declined. A trial is scheduled to begin July 10 on the state’s current House and congressional maps before the three-judge panel of federal judges that has previously struck down several districts in the 2011 maps, which were never used for an election.
“A special session was entirely avoidable, and there was plenty of time for the legislature to forge compromises to avoid the time and taxpayer expense of a special session,” Abbott said during his announcement. “If I am going to call a special session, I intend to make it count.”
The special session has no effect on the ability of legislators and state officials to raise money. A moratorium on contributions is in place during regular sessions only, and that moratorium ends June 19. Legislators and state officials who collect contributions during the special session must disclose those contributions in a special session report, which is due 30 days after the adjournment of the special session.
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