Sunday, June 20th was the last day for the Governor to veto bills, sign bills or allow them to become law without his signature.
The Governor vetoed 20 bills that reached his desk. The most interesting veto was not a full veto, but a line item veto. Governor Abbott vetoed article 10 of the budget which funds the legislature. Starting September 1st of this year there is no approved budget to fund the salary and expenses of members of the legislature and their staff. The Governor announced his line item veto was in retribution for the Democratic member of the House walking out of the chamber on the last night of the session breaking quorum. Two of the Governor’s priority bills, election integrity and bail reform were not able to be considered in the absence of a quorum so they died.
A quorum in the House is two-thirds of the members or 100 of the 150 representatives. There are 67 democrats in the Texas House, so when they left the chamber the Republicans fell 17 members short of a quorum.
It is now expected that the Governor will call the legislature back into special session before September 1st to allow the legislature an opportunity to restore the budget. At the same time the legislature will be asked to pass the voting integrity bill, the bail reform bill and other bills that are on the Governor’s wish list.
There will be a second special session in October to redistrict based on the 2020 federal census. The data to redistrict is usually available in April, but because of the pandemic the data is being delayed until September. The legislature will have to reapportion the state’s representation in the US Congress. Texas gained two seats, so they will have to divide the state into 38 Congressional Districts based on population. There are a fixed number of districts for the Texas Senate (31) so they will be redrawn based on the population shift since the 2010 census. Same with the Texas House (150 members).
The Governor is also committed to get legislative input on the uses of expected federal pandemic relief funds targeted to the state. This could be added to either of the expected special sessions.
Some statistics on the regular session of the 87th Texas Legislature: 7025 bills were introduced, 1159 of those were passed and sent to the Governor. He signed 1034 bills, vetoed 20 and let 105 become law without his signature. For what will seem like a brief moment, the Legislative session is over.