Fourth special session comes to an end

With little fanfare, the two chambers of the Texas Legislature put out to pasture the fourth called special session with little expectation of returning this year — and perhaps not until 2025.

Entering Tuesday, it was expected that the bodies would conclude their business, but the Senate still held out hope the lower chamber would move the school security fund or election contest deadlines bills — both of which were filed and passed abruptly last week by the upper chamber.

In the end, that did not occur as the House adjourned sine die. Before that happened, state Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) approached the back microphone and inquired about suspending rules and processes to expedite passage of those two bills.

House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) told Allison he would not be recognized for that motion. After Allison left the back microphone, a Senate page entered and announced the delivery of items from the upper chamber, including Senate Bill (SB) 6, the constriction of election contest deadlines.

“Mr. Allison, for your education, one of the bills you mentioned was just received in the Texas House,” Phelan said from the dais.

The body adjourned and dispersed.

Phelan said later in a statement, “The Texas House concludes the special session today having passed strong border security measures that will soon cross Governor Abbott’s desk to be signed into law.”

Following that, the Senate convened and quickly adjourned, but not before Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took another stab at his House counterpart.

“The Senate works all the time,” Patrick said, remarking on state Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) making over 72,000 votes in a row.

Patrick then teased a press conference to come after the end of the special session.

The body passed two bills during the fourth special session: a $1.54 billion appropriation for border wall funding and overtime for state law enforcement patrolling Colony Ridge, and the creation of a state penalty for illegal immigration from a foreign nation.

Among those that didn’t make the finish line were either chamber’s education plans, whose death knell sounded when the House voted before Thanksgiving to strip the education savings account provision from the education omnibus plan that also included teacher pay raises and a school funding increase. The Senate’s bills were not heard in committee in the House. 

Others include the creation of a school safety fund and appropriation, each respective chamber passed their own versions — neither of which advanced in the opposite chamber — along with the reform to election contest procedure, a direct response to some suits filed challenging the recent constitutional amendment elections.

Now that this fourth special session is concluded, all eyes move to 2024 and the burgeoning, bloody primary fight to come, with questions lingering about a potential fifth special session in January.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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