Governor Abbott Announces Special Session No. 3

With a commitment to furthering the progress he says was achieved during the 88th Regular Legislative Session and two preceding special sessions this summer, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Oct. 5 unveiled his agenda for the third legislative special session of the year. The special session starts at 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9.

This latest special session aims to address what Abbott views as critical issues: education freedom, border security, public safety, and the ending of COVID-19 restrictions.

"I am bringing the Texas Legislature back for Special Session #3 to continue building on the achievements we accomplished during the 88th Regular Legislative Session and two special sessions this summer," Abbott said in a news release. "Together, we will chart a brighter future for all Texas children by empowering parents to choose the best education option for their child. Texas will also pass laws to mirror the federal immigration laws President Joe Biden refuses to enforce that will reduce illegal immigration and enhance the safety of Texans. For the first time ever, Texas will subject people to arrest for illegal entry into our state from a foreign nation. All licensed law enforcement officers in Texas will be authorized to arrest or remove any person who illegally enters the State, with penalties up to 20 years in prison for refusing to comply with removal. To crack down on repeated attempts to enter Texas illegally, re-entry will be penalized with up to 20 years in prison. Additionally, we must protect the freedom of Texans from forced COVID-19 vaccinations. I look forward to working with my partners in the Legislature to address these critical issues."

Although the governor's agenda does not address retirement benefits, the legislative initiatives impact certain segments of public employees and the education industry. Other agenda items could impact pensioners' daily lives.

In this blog post, we'll delve into the key agenda items and explore the governor's vision for Texas.

Empowering Parents with Education Freedom: One of the primary agenda items for the third special session is the introduction of legislation that provides education savings accounts, or what many refer to as "school vouchers," for all Texas schoolchildren. Abbott's goal, he says, is to enable parents to choose the best educational options for their children. This is done through a taxpayer-funded account that parents could use to subsidize alternative education costs. Those against the initiative say it would take funding away from public schools. After getting linked to the education savings accounts proposal, lawmakers failed to raise teacher pay and increase per-student funding earlier this legislative year.

Stories from the web about education freedom:

Strengthening Border Security: Border security remains a pressing concern for Texas legislators. The proposed legislation includes measures to reduce illegal immigration by creating a criminal offense for illegal entry into Texas from a foreign nation. Furthermore, all licensed peace officers would be authorized to remove illegal immigrants from the state. To impede illegal entry, penalties for criminal activities related to smuggling persons and stash houses would be increased. Additionally, the session aims to enhance border barrier infrastructure by allocating more funding for its construction, operation, and maintenance. During the regular legislative session, the Legislature didn't pass an immigration bill that would've created a new law enforcement unit along the state's border with Mexico, according to this report.

Stories from the web about border security:

Prioritizing Public Safety: Public safety is another issue the governor says is at the forefront of his agenda, particularly in areas like the Colony Ridge development in Liberty County, Texas. Legislation will be introduced to address public safety, security, environmental quality, and property ownership in regions, but this area is being specifically targeted. The governor and other conservatives claim the Colony Ridge development is a haven for undocumented people and is inundated with crime. One of its owners says the allegations are false. The session aims to create a safer and more secure environment for Texans living in the area and others like it. Here's a Sept. 20, 2023, letter signed by 25 Texas U.S. House Republicans calling for an investigation into Colony Ridge. 

Stories from the web about Colony Ridge:

Protecting Individual Freedom: Gov. Abbott refers to a call to prohibit COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private employers as a move to protect individual freedom. If passed, it's action he and other legislators feel would uphold Texans' personal autonomy in making healthcare decisions. On Sept. 1, 2023, a bill passed during the regular legislative session went into law prohibiting local governments from requiring COVID-related masks, vaccines, or business shutdowns. It does not cover private entities, however. Abbott and his supporters hope to change that during this special session.

Stories from the web about COVID-19 vaccine mandates:

With its diverse agenda items ranging from education freedom to border security to private business rights, this session is shaping up to be eventful. Public pension retirement system leaders might want to keep informed even if it doesn't directly impact pensions and investments. 

TEXPERS, along with the Association's Legislative Committee and government affairs consultant, monitors the Texas Legislature, especially for any actions impacting public employee pensions. Check our blog for regular updates.
About the Author: Allen Jones is the Director of Communications and Event Marketing at TEXPERS. He joined TEXPERS in January 2017. He can be reached at [email protected].


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