Texas Legislative News: June 20, 2023

TX Legislative News
TX Legislative NEWS FEAT

Welcome to the latest edition of Texas Legislative News for the 88th Texas Legislature. In this weekly feature, we provide information on disability-related issues being considered at the State Capitol. We also include overviews of how lawmakers conduct business and provide details on upcoming TCDD events.

Table of Contents

Sunday, June 18, was the final day for the governor to act on bills passed in the regular session that adjourned on May 29. He could choose to sign a bill into law, let it pass into law without his signature, or veto a bill and prevent it from taking effect. By the time the deadline passed, a total of 76 bills were vetoed. While this was the highest number of vetoes issued by Gov. Greg Abbott for a legislative session, it did not reach the record of 83 vetoes that were issued by then-Gov. Rick Perry in 2001.

For many of the bills, the veto was not issued based on a disagreement over the policy change, but instead over separate disputes between state leaders. Two of the governor’s priority items, property tax relief and private school vouchers, failed to pass in the regular session and he noted his disapproval by vetoing several unrelated bills. These included Senate Bill (SB) 2248 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a measure that relates to guardianship. The veto proclamation on the bill reads as follows:

While Senate Bill No. 2248 is important, it is simply not as important as cutting property taxes. At this time, the legislature must concentrate on delivering property tax cuts to Texans. This bill can be reconsidered at a future special session only after property tax relief is passed.

Two additional bills impacting the disability community were vetoed:

  • House Bill (HB) 729 by Rep. Toni Rose, would create a statewide intellectual and developmental disability coordinating council.
  • HB 3159 by Rep. Jeff Leach, would establish an accessible absentee ballot system for certain voters with disabilities.

 

In these instances, the vetoes were seemingly the result of disagreements with the bills themselves. However, advocates were caught off guard by the governor’s actions in these cases, and they argue that the reasoning found in the veto proclamations is directly contradicted by testimony offered on HB 729 and by the text of HB 3159. It is unclear whether the bills’ authors and supporters plan to pursue similar legislation in the next session.

A full list of bills vetoed by the governor can be found here.

 

Special Session Continues

At the close of the regular session, the governor immediately called lawmakers back into special session to consider the issues of property tax relief and border security. The House and Senate have not agreed on these issues and it is unclear whether they will do so by June 27, the final day for this special session. The governor has already indicated that lawmakers should expect multiple special sessions in the coming months to consider a variety of his priority issues.

To assist with this work, Speaker Dade Phelan recently announced the appointment of two new committees:

Disability Policy Academy

On Wednesday, June 14, TCDD hosted a Disability Policy Academy titled “A Capitol Recap: Disability Policy in the 88th Legislature.” The event featured an overview of the legislative session as it related to disability issues. TCDD staff also discussed what advocates should be thinking about in the lead-up to the next regular session, which convenes in January 2025.

To view a recording of the presentation, visit the TCDD YouTube page. A copy of the webinar’s slideshow can be found here.

Become a TCDD Council Member

We are seeking enthusiastic disability advocates to join our Council! TCDD is established by state and federal law and is governed by 27 board members appointed by the governor. At least 60% of Council members are people with developmental disabilities (DD) or family members of people with disabilities. The Council’s purpose is to motivate change so that people with DD have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

TCDD encourages individuals with DD and family members of people with DD to apply to serve on the Council. Council members provide leadership for the organization and, among other responsibilities, develop and approve TCDD’s public policy priorities before each Texas legislative session. Before joining the Council, each member completes an application and appointment process through the Texas Governor’s Office. If you are interested in applying to serve on the Council, please complete the TCDD Council Member Interest Form.

Stay Informed

To stay up to date on how disability-related issues are addressed by the Legislature, follow us on TwitterFacebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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