Texas governor calls another special session to pass voter suppression laws

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It will start on Aug. 7, as soon as the current session ends.

Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed a proclamation establishing a second special session of the state Legislature for the purpose of voting on a list of bills, including the same voter suppression bill Republicans have tried and failed to pass for months.

The special session is set to begin at noon on Aug. 7. That's one day after the current special session — which began on July 8 and was slated to last a maximum of 30 days — is scheduled to end.

Abbott's proclamation puts Democrats in the Legislature in a bind.

Dozens of Democratic state representatives are currently out of the state. They left last month to deny Republicans a quorum, the minimum number of members required to be present to pass a law, effectively blocking the voter suppression bill that voting rights experts have panned as an effort to make it harder to vote.

The Democratic lawmakers have testified at hearings on Capitol Hill concerning Texas' voter suppression bills and lobbied members of Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation.

The Texas legislation includes a host of new measures that would make it harder to vote, including cutting back on early-voting hours, banning drive-thru voting, restricting voting by mail, and making it easier to overturn the results of an election.

Abbott also wants the Legislature to pass legislation blocking transgender students from playing on the sports teams of their gender; banning the teaching in classrooms of the history of systemic racism in the United States, which Republicans call by the term "critical race theory" and pitch dishonestly to their base as divisive indoctrination of their children; and restricting abortion access.

To the holdovers from the previous special session, Abbott has added new items, such as a bill to block schools from requiring masks and COVID-19 vaccines, even though cases of the virus are currently on the rise in Texas and across the country.

The Texas Democratic lawmakers have not indicated whether they will remain out of the state. Abbott has threatened to have them arrested and returned to Austin if they do return.

But in a statement, Abbott said he "will continue to call special session after special session to reform our broken bail system, uphold election integrity, and pass other important items that Texans demand and deserve."

"Passing these Special Session agenda items will chart a course towards a stronger and brighter future for the Lone Star State," Abbott said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.