Governor Greg Abbott Gives Lawmakers Additional Information About Fall Special Session
For those who have been following this year's Texas legislative session, it has been well-understood that a special session would have to be called sometime after August. The reason? Due to delays in receiving population data from the federal government, and Census Bureau, the Texas Legislature was unable to take up the issue of redistricting during the 87th Legislature.
Thursday evening, Governor Greg Abbott contacted lawmakers and said that a second item will be added to agenda for a Fall special session. In addition to taking up redistricting, the agenda for the first Called Session of the 87th Legislature will also include lawmakers having to allocate almost $16 billion in federal funds earmarked for COVID-19 relief.
Our friends at The Texan obtained a copy of Governor Abbott's e-mail to lawmakers, “As everybody knows, I will be calling a special session for redistricting in the fall, and have committed to Lt. Governor [Dan] Patrick, Speaker [Dade] Phelan, Chairs [Jane] Nelson and [Greg] Bonnen, and Vice Chairs [Eddie] Lucio and [Mary] Gonzalez that I will place the allocation of the nearly $16 billion in Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Relief federal funds on the same special call so the entire legislature can participate in the allocation process in a way that best serves all Texans,” read Abbott’s statement.
Concerning the redistricting, the Legislature would have to create, approve, and send to Governor Abbott for his approval, a number of maps based upon the 2020 U.S. Census.
It's already been announced that Texas will add two more Congressional seats for the 2022 reapportionment. This will give Texas 38 Congressional Districts, the most in the state's history.
Other redistricting that the legislature will have to take up is: Texas House districts, Texas Senate districts, and Texas State Board of Education districts.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is what's providing the state an additional $16 billion in funding. Brad Johnson with The Texan notes, the money has some strings attached: it may not be used to cut taxes, directly or indirectly. Also, it may not be used to shore up pension systems.
An official date has not been set for the Texas Legislature's special session.